Taking leave of our health and senses

We are as competently ready as ever –– or as any other –– to deal with any challenges from Ebola. Or so our health and environmental powers that be would have us believe.

We have an Isolation Centre –– or an idea of it –– at the Enmore Complex at Collymore Rock in St Michael. And regardless of the cries of objection from parents of children attending three schools in its vicinity (The St Michael School, St Gabriel’s and St Ursula’s right on its doorstep), Enmore is where this facility is –– “temporary” as the authorities
say it will be.

And according to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Tennyson Springer, the Ebola Isolation Centre is fully staffed –– with about 40 health workers –– and conclusively equipped to handle any case of the deadly virus.

And, Minister of Health John Boyce has also sought to assure us the facility has been appropriately designed (or should that be redesigned?) “in strict compliance with international standards” for infection control, air quality and waste management.

Words of comfort; but not beyond the stage of expression of generalities. Oh, that our Government spokesmen would be more specific when they seek to gain public confidence on critical matters –– of course, such as an Ebola Isolation Centre! Is this state of international standard, as boasted by Mr Springer, in consonance with the HAZMAT (hazardous materials and items) Mode?

Can Mr Springer and our Minister of Health assure us beyond a shadow of a doubt that the physical design of the Enmore building does conform to the accepted biohazard containment control criterion? Will they demonstrate to us –– Press and public alike –– that their selected Lower Collymore Rock building complies –– or can –– with the demands of segregated air conditioning systems, double-door, vacuum-sealed entrances and exits, separate staff and patient bathroom facilities, unencumbered waste management, uncompromised patient-personnel communications protocols, emergency electrical and water backup systems, and efficiently functioning supervisory stations for oversight?

Only overt confirmation of these requirements will possibly relieve the doubts of neighbouring residents and of parents whose charges must be schooled in the vicinity of Enmore. Thus the elimination of generalities –– or obfuscation –– about the present “design” of the Enmore building and a clearer picture of its infrastructural integrity as a protective buffer facility would go a long way in bringing peace of mind to the society at large.

Of course, any required effective containment of Ebola will depend much too on the coordinated efforts of Caribbean governments at their port of entries to prevent the virus from sneaking into the region in the first place –– a matter agreed upon by CARICOM leaders, in word at least, just this week, and which we wait with bated breath to see transformed into some practicality.

Dare we expect more?

Well, our Ministry of Health keeps pledging to do all it can to allay our fears about its preparedness and strategy for containment of the Ebola disease in Barbados –– this herculean task juxtaposed against the simple national duty of garbage collection that has gone awry in the last several weeks, leaving Barbadians and visitors at risk of infection by even other diseases like the dreaded leptospirosis.

Dare we rest confidently over our administration’s promise on the Ebola Isolation Centre, when it cannot get the picking up of our garbage nationally and daily back on stream? Dare we, when each morning and evening we must be confronted with overflowing piles of vermin-infested refuse, litter and dross?

. . . When our health authorities seem unrattled by the burgeoning garbage bedecking our highways and avenues?

And we wait seemingly in vain for specifics from Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe on the solutions to this untenable state of affairs and stink! How are Sanitation Service Authority workers allowed to idle daily? How are only 12 garbage trucks operational for an entire country?

How indeed can this kind of reasoning allay our Ebola doubts and fears?

We aver that cleanliness is undeniably next to godliness, and that at the very top of any list of articles and principles of national hygiene, sanitation and disease containment must be common sense!

2 Responses to Taking leave of our health and senses

  1. Patrick Blackman November 6, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    I just don’t get why there is all this hysteria about ebola, may be because it was hype by the U.S. media and we are just jumping on the band wagon. Since 1976 up until January this year there just about 1500 deaths from ebola, the common cold and flu kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. Stop listening to the hype, ebola is being hype to so Glaxo & NIS can make money.

  2. Tony Webster November 7, 2014 at 6:36 am

    I pass on commenting on fellow-writer@Patrick, above; better left as is. What I do offer, is a couple of related points:-
    1. Anyone “in bed” with the latest ” conspiracy industry”, had better do a little more research, using a medical dictionary, and try-out a few choice diseases, starting with hepatitis, (which has been killing people-including undertakers, for many decades) who are so foolish as to even touch a body; then try influenza (in all its variants); SARS; and MERS, which is (related to SARS), and prevalent now in Yemen.

    2. Tourists do not take a liking to a country which is un-tidy; or un-clean, or down-right nasty and dirty. Nor do we Bajans, when WE go hopping off to visit other lands and peoples. A tourist who enjoys his visit to a given country, immediately becomes a most valued advertisement, and is happy to boast about the place to any and all pairs of ears that will listen. A tourist, like the one my sister in Canada encouraged to visit Bim, and expectantly asked her on her return “How did you enjoy Barbados?”
    The answer was:,”Well , we walked to town from the ship, and the place was really nasty, with fast-food containers and litter all over the place. When we walked back to the ship at dusk, it was worse, as rats were everywhere. I shall never go back there”.

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: this is not a conspiraccy theory; this is real; aka, the hard, unpleasant, inconvenient truth. Barbados is nasty, un-tidy; littered with everything you don’t want to see, or smell, or go near-to; or to breathe (like diesel exhaust fumes). It is no-one’s fault, but our own. And no-one is going to fix it, but you and me. It would also help if certain “relevant ” environmental maguffies, who daily fold their hands, turn a blind eye to the problem, and do absolutely nothing to enforce a whole statute-book of laws and regulations… would at least “break a sweat”, in return for handsome salary, perks, and waiting pension. A National shame and a disgrace, and God help us if we cannot at least teach the coming generation, to do better. BTW….any place that pays scant attention to cleanliness, …will suffer “consequences”. Hmmm….THAT must be what they meant by TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES!


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