With the aim of finalizing a multi-hazard health disaster management plan for the twin-island state, a number of stakeholders gathered this week at the Ministry of Health and the Environment Headquarters to update and upgrade the current health disaster response plan.
Speaking at the event on Wednesday (May 31st), a retired senior medical officer from Barbados, Dr Elizabeth Ferdinand, noted that disasters are more than just a natural phenomenon like hurricanes but also pose other grave threats to the population.
“What we are looking at really is to finalize the multi-hazard disaster management plan for Antigua and Barbuda. Now the plan was in place since last year but it needs updating and upgrading to include multi-hazards and not just hurricanes,” said Dr Ferdinand.
The medical official also emphasized that it’s all about preparations, having the best response plan in place and to be ready to react to all eventualities.
“Well, with any disaster, the more prepared you are for it, the better you will be able to manage it and there will be less damage and loss of life or injuries to persons. That’s the whole purpose, in that you have to be prepared, and you are going to do the things you need to do beforehand so if a disaster does occur you can respond well,” she added.
Another individual heavily involved in the process is Dr. Lorian Henry Johnson, a senior medical officer with responsibilities for health disaster coordination and communication.
When asked to give a synopsis of what the group was trying to accomplish, Henry Johnson declared that the overall aim is to strengthen and improve the country’s abilities to respond to all disaster emergencies.
“What we are actually doing today is trying to finalize our health sector disaster management plan and this plan does not only look at managing disasters but also reducing our risk for disasters,” Henry Johnson noted.
The three-day event, which ran from Monday to Wednesday this week, was attended by a number of individuals from a wide cross-section of the country’s health, disaster and emergency response institutions.
Among the attendees were representatives from the Emergency Medical Services, the Disability Centre, Fiennes Institute, the Royal Police Force and the Fire Department, as well as doctors attached to the Ministry of Health and the National Solid Waste Management Authority.
The Medical Benefits Scheme, Health Information Division, Central Board of Health, National Office of Disaster Management Services, the AIDS Secretariat and the Red Cross were also represented at the function.