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National Port Health Surveillance Plan for Grenada

The preliminary development of a National Port Health Surveillance Plan for Grenada, is the latest action taken by the Ministry of Health to improve its response capabilities and effectiveness in carrying out its port health duties.

As part of the process the Ministry’s Environmental Health Department, spearheaded a meeting from October 5-8, 2009 which brought major stakeholders together, to examine existing protocols, in a bid to plan the way forward. 

Introduction

Implementing the International Health Regulations is an obligation for World Health Organization and State Parties to the Regulations. One group of such obligations is those related to the core capacity requirement for countries: “detect, assess, notify and report events in accordance with the regulations” and to “respond promptly and effectively to pubic health risks and public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC).” There are also obligations concerning designated ports and airports, in relation to routine prevention and control measures and response to events the may constitute a PHEIC.

The International Health Regulations (2005) or IHR, adopted by the Fifty-eighth World Health Assembly in May 2005, entered into force on 15 June, 2007 is a legally-binding international instrument to help countries work together to save lives and minimize the impact on livelihoods by events that cause the international spread of diseases. The IHR (2005) aims to prevent, protect against, control and respond to the international spread of disease while avoiding unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. The IHR (2005) is also designed to reduce the risk of disease spread at international airports, ports

The IHR (2005) requires each State Party to develop, strengthen and maintain core national public health capacities at the local community level and/or at primary public health response level, intermediate level and national level in order to detect, assess, notify, report events and to respond promptly and effectively to public health risks and emergencies. 

Legislation

State Parties should also assess their national legislation and regulations and make any revisions necessary for compliance with the IHR (2005), including requirements to provide key sanitary and health services and facilities at points of entry designated by State Parties.

Time Lines

States Party have up to two years from 15 June, 2007 to assess the situation and develop a plan for core capacities, and five years to implement such plan, i.e. meet the core capacity requirements set out in Annex 1 of the IHR (WHO, 2005).

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The preliminary development of a National Port Health Surveillance Plan for Grenada, is the latest action taken by the Ministry of Health to improve its response capabilities and effectiveness in carrying out its port health duties.

As part of the process the Ministry’s Environmental Health Department, spearheaded a meeting from October 5-8, 2009 which brought major stakeholders together, to examine existing protocols, in a bid to plan the way forward.

Presenters at this workshop were Dr. Alister Antoine - Ministry of Health, Mr. Andrea Worme - Chief Environmental Health Officer ag and Mr. Colin Browne Public Health Specialist PAHO/WHO Office of Eastern Caribbean Countries located in Barbados.

The first two days of the workshop were used to develop a National plan of action for Grenada and its dependence, and the final two days were used to train and sensitize key stake holders working at points of entry to assist Ministry of Health personnel in its surveillance activities.

Presentations delivered were on:

  1. Introduction to the International Health Regulations
  1. Role and function of the port health officer
  1. Situation on port health activities occurring in Grenada currently
  1. Vector Control
  1. Disease Surveillance structure in Grenada
  1. Solid and liquid waste collection and disposal
  1. Food safety
  1. Potable water
  1. Legislation  

In his presentation Mr. Brown noted that his main objective was to assist in the development of a national plan of action for designated points of entry.  He said Grenada is a signatory to the International Health Regulation of 2005 which requires countries to strengthen their national surveillance capacity to respond to any public health emergencies of international concern.

Mr. Browne said that in 2008 an assessment of air and seaports including marinas was carried out with a view of identifying gaps and ways of curbing them.

“We are trying to have heightened awareness at the various points of entry, especially among the frontline staff and thus far discussions and contributions were rather helpful and positive. Although the team and country scored very high based on an evaluation, there is little work to be done”, he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Environmental Health Officer Andre Worme, explained that the workshop encapsulates and solidifies measures that the Ministry was already taking to ensure that its public health surveillance procedures were of a high standard.    

According to Mr. Worme, during the early stages of the Influenza-A H1N1 outbreak the Ministry took the decision to develop a number of protocols that were deemed necessary to safeguard the interest of the Grenadian people.  Two of the protocols developed during that period, specifically addressed port health matters with respect to the sea and air ports.

Under the Public Health Act of Grenada volumes 6 of 1990, Cap 263, Sect’s 26 and 76: an Environmental Health Officer is authorized to carry out his or her duties which include but not limited to surveillance, interception and regulation.

Outcomes of the meeting were:

-  A draft Plan of action for points of entry has been developed, and should be circulated to key stake holders for comment for finalizing the document.

-  The sensitizing of key stakeholders was undertaken, and well received.  The participants gave a commitment to assist the Ministry of Health in its surveillance activities.

 

Mr. Brown delivering a presenation to participants

Cross-section of participants at the meeting

Cross-section of participants at the meeting

 

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