Environmental health program continues to address Objective 1.3 of the PAHO/WHO Country Cooperation Strategy 2006-09 (CCS): to protect the environment, reduce environmental pollution, and provide a safe water supply.
In 2008-09, the Biennial Work Plan (BWP) addresses the following priority Technical Cooperation commitments:
- Development of regulations for occupational safety and health (OSH), including radiological safety and the development and implementation of MoH and RHA OSH guidelines
- Implementation of the Code of Practice dealing with biomedical waste management through collaboration with the NACC
- Implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR), including surveillance of environmental and human health
- Vector control (dengue, yellow fever, malaria, West Nile virus); training of vector control officers, including in surveillance
- Development of disaster preparedness plans at community, Ministry, RHA, and Regional Corporation levels; hospital mitigation; simulation exercises; preparation for avian influenza pandemic
The highlights of the technical cooperation program include:
i. Identification of the consultant to support the Ministry of Health’s Radiation Protection Working Group to review the safety regulations for occupational safety (Ionising Radiations Regulations – (IRR), and patient safety (Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations - IRMER) in the use of radiological materials and to provide recommendations for future implementation. The consultant, Dr. Brian Holyoak submitted his final report in June 2009.
ii. Technical assistance to map radiology services in publicly funded health facilities 2008 and conduct an onsite assessment of radiology and radiotherapy services ( in both private and public health facilities) November 2009.
iii. Provision (in collaboration with the government of Canada) of technical expertise and other resources to support occupational safety and health measures in the RHAs. In January 2009 the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) approved funding in the sum of half a million Canadian dollars for the 15 month Occupational Health and Infection Prevention in Health Care Facilities project. The project’s main components are to strengthen occupational health of healthcare workers through infection control and appropriate PPE training and use (included participation of other CARICOM countries), laboratory safety (including provision of biosafety cabinets for two hospital laboratories), improved health surveillance for healthcare workers and risk management. The project collaborators are from the University of British Columbia, the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health. The experience gained was put into practice with the subsequent Pandemic Influenza H1N1 and the two high level international summits hosted in Trinidad and Tobago.
iv. Provision of technical expertise to conduct an audit of the implementation biomedical waste management in the health facilities and a review of the Code of Practice for Bio-Medical Waste Management. Consultant Engineer Ed Garraway submitted the final report in September 2009. This Code was produced in 2005 with assistance of PAHO/WHO World Bank and the National AIDS Coordinating Committee and adopted by the Ministry, and PAHO assisted in its implementation in the RHAs.
v. The Core Capacity Assessment of compliance with IHR 2005 was conducted for port health (February 2009, using an OCPC tool) and for the national surveillance system (in 2008 by CAREC-PAHO). The development of an Action Plan to build the capacities needed to address these gaps was completed the Ministry of Health in June 2009. PAHO is assisting the MoH to implement these plans to attain IHR 2005 compliance by June 2012.
vi. Conduct of train-the-trainer courses to prepare health services to improve surveillance and outbreak investigations of any outbreak of infectious diseases, including SARI (November 2008), and health facility response (March 2009).
vii. Training in the application of the Safe Hospital Index 25-27 May 2009, and support to conduct the application of the Safe Hospital Index during August and September 2009 at the EWMSC, Port-of-Spain General Hospital, San Fernando Hospital and the Scarborough General Hospitals. The reports of these assessments were presented to senior management by the three person consultant PAHO/WHO team October2009.
viii. Provision of direct technical advice and other support for tobacco control including national participation at annual Sub-Regional tobacco control meetings, monitoring country progress, participating in the National Tobacco Control Committee meetings, surveys (Global Health Professional Students Survey 2008/9) and by providing consultancy services to develop the National Tobacco Control Plan (completed end of April 2009). The National Tobacco Control Committee received a certificate of appreciation and medal from WHO for World No Tobacco Day 2009 for the work that they have accomplished to-date.