Protecting local, visiting populations for health treatment – a priority for govt

─ govt renews obligation to Tourism and Health Programme

─ health, hospitality, and tourism stakeholders re-sensitise in programme objectives 

DPI, Guyana, Monday, September 10, 2018

Key health and tourism stakeholders are being targetted to be involved in a more strategic implementation of a Tourism and Health Programme (THP) in Guyana. Guyana is one of eight countries in the Caribbean participating in the Regional Tourism and Health Programme.

The government, through the tourism sector and the Public Health Ministry, in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is placing emphasis on monitoring and surveillance of public health threats which can significantly impact the economic standing of the local tourism sector.

These stakeholders were today engaged in a re-sensitisation workshop at Duke Lodge where they sought to improve the health, safety and security of locals and visitors, tourism resilience, reputation and economic sustainability through the regional programme.

“Guyana endorses a unified regional approach from which we will be well positioned to maximise and optimise the tourist service we provide with a hospitality staff trained in health standards and best practices in health and food hygiene and guidelines for safeguarding the health of our locals and visitors,” Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence told the stakeholders at today’s forum.

The minister declared that Guyana’s upcoming tourism potential rests with an efficient and stringent tourism and health information system.

Head of the THP at CARPHA, Dr. Lisa Indar explained that for some time it has been recognised that there has been a need for an integrated solution to address health, safety and environmental threats in response to tourism-based public health crises. Therefore, she stressed the relevance of such a programme noting that essentially measures must be put in place to stop the spread of contagious illnesses and diseases.

“If we are interested in public health then the important thing for us is to really look at the fact that we have more people visiting the Caribbean than people who are actually living here… tourism is our bread and butter, it’s our economic viability but we cannot ignore the fact that travellers can also promote disease spread,” Dr. Indar said.

It was on this note that Minister Lawrence stated that tourism continues to be a major economic contributor to Caribbean countries. As a result, Guyana is working towards getting it right from the start even as the tourism sector records an increased number of tourists.

“In order to keep tourism sustainable, it is imperative that constant monitoring and surveillance are prioritised so that we keep a firm grip on the safety and security risks to the health of both our locals and visitor populations as the influx of our visitors from our various destinations arrive in our countries in increasing numbers,” Minister Lawrence explained.

The minister further explained that the dynamism of the tourist industry in each Caribbean country is linked to the health of its nationals. If a country is inflicted by disease whether or not it’s contagious, this will deter potential tourist from travelling to the country. In the long term, this can have a negative impact on the tourism industry.

“We cannot close our eyes to the reality of the world and diseases, even if we implement strategies to boost this industry, we must, and I emphasise, we must pay careful attention also to the health aspect.”

The THP was launched in Guyana in 2017; thereafter several ministerial and stakeholder engagements, training of personnel in Tourism and Health information systems and policy forums were facilitated.

The overarching goal of such a programme is to strengthen Guyana’s capacity to respond to public health threats which can transcend national boundaries.

In April 2018, the Ministries of Public Health and Business (Department of Tourism) renewed the country’s commitment to the THP through signed letters of support.

By: Delicia Haynes.

Images: Jules Gibson.

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