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HomeNewsCaribbean NewsSt Lucia has a National Emergency – CRIME

St Lucia has a National Emergency – CRIME

  • Escalating crime levels in Saint Lucia pose a threat to public health
  • Ministry of Education condemns violent incident at secondary school

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – Our simply beautiful island nation of Saint Lucia is facing a concerning surge in crime, a trend that not only threatens the safety of our citizens but also places an unprecedented strain on our nation’s medical sector, Dr Delphina Vernor, public relations officer, St Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) declared in a press release Monday; while the ministry of education, sustainable development, innovation, science, technology and vocational training says it is “aware of a chopping incident involving two students at a secondary school in the island’s north, and strongly condemns such acts of violence within our educational institutions.”

In a recent article, subtitle, Saint Lucia has a National Emergency – CRIME, Caribbean News Global (CNG) said:

Occurring in both tourist and non-tourist areas, homicide and violent crime (burglaries, armed robberies, car theft, cutlass attacks, violence against women) are widespread. On Sunday morning, homicide number ten (February 4, 2024) occurred outside the Official Residence of the Governor General, La Toc, Castries. The escalated crime and violence terrorizing neighbourhoods throughout Saint Lucia summons the need for clarity and action, as the island tourism product and economy are clouded in uncertainty, according to industry leaders.”

Public Relations Officer, St Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA), Dr Delphina Vernor

Dr Vernor’s announcement has further substantiated health and public safety issues highlighted in the local and international decision-making circles.

“Recent statistics reveal a worrisome uptick in criminal activities with ten homicides already in 2024, prompting us at the SLMDA to address the multifaceted implications on public health. The impact of the escalating crime levels extends beyond immediate safety concerns. Emergency rooms and healthcare facilities are grappling with an influx of trauma cases of varying severity resulting from violent incidents, putting an additional burden on an already stretched healthcare system,” the outstanding district medical officer for 2023, Dr Vernor,” advised. 

The ripple effects Dr Vernor noted are many including:

  • Increasing patient volume;
  • Increased demand on blood bank resources;
  • Increased emergency surgical procedures and need for ICU beds;
  • Extended wait times for other patients seeking emergency services;
  • Significant strain on hospital infrastructure, physical and human resources;
  • Increased demand on EMT and ambulance services.

“Healthcare facilities are forced to allocate more resources to handle trauma cases, including increased staffing in emergency departments and additional medical supplies. This redirection of resources comes at a time when the world is grappling with ongoing public health challenges, making it crucial to address the root causes of the rise in crime to alleviate the strain on the medical sector,” Dr Vernor, stressed. “There is also a significant mental health impact. The fear of crime and the experience of victimization can contribute to mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Communities with high crime rates may experience heightened levels of stress and reduced overall mental well-being. The constant exposure of healthcare workers to these traumatic cases, breaking news to families and even threats in some cases does not bode well for the mental health of our healthcare workers. Chronic stress has been linked to the development of chronic non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer and immune system suppression. This demonstrates that the constant threat of crime poses a threat to overall physical health, which is a problem we are already battling.”

The SLMDA public relations officer emphasized that:

“The allocation of public health resources may shift to address the immediate consequences of crime, diverting attention and funds away from preventive measures, community health initiatives, and addressing underlying social determinants of health. Crime can lead to economic instability within communities, affecting employment opportunities and economic development. Economic hardships, in turn, can contribute to health disparities and exacerbate existing health issues.”

Seeking solutions to the frightening public safety confronting Saint Lucia, “the SLMDA urges the government of Saint Lucia and all stakeholders to unite and seek to implement a holistic approach to address the issue of crime, combining law enforcement efforts with community outreach programs and social initiatives. We stand ready as a professional body and civil society group to assist in these efforts.”

Additionally, the SLMDA, highlighted that, In the face of these challenges, the people of Saint Lucia remain resilient and it is essential that we come together to safeguard the well-being of our communities. As a nation, we need to commit to implementing comprehensive strategies that address the immediate safety concerns while fostering a sustainable, secure environment for all residents.”

As a reminder, the SLMDA noted various concerns about “addressing the root causes of crime, implementing effective crime prevention strategies, and fostering community resilience are crucial components of promoting public health and creating safer, healthier societies.”

Minister for Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Shawn A. Edward

Meanwhile, the ministry of education “condemns violent incident at secondary school,” said Tuesday, February 6, 2024, that:

“The incident which happened on Monday, February 5, 2024, is currently being investigated by the police. The ministry has meantime taken swift action in providing counselling services for both students and staff affected by the incident.”

“We are deeply concerned about the incident at one of our secondary schools. Violence has no place in our schools, and we are committed to ensuring the well-being of our students and staff. The ministry of education is dedicated to fostering a conducive and secure learning environment across the island,” minister Edward stated. “The safety and mental well-being of our school community remain a top priority for the ministry, and as such the ministry, along with school management, emphasizes the importance of peaceful conflict resolution, urging students to refrain from resorting to violence to settle disputes.’

The eloquence of the government reporting has wittingly and/or unwittingly said nothing of substance regarding repeated violent occurrences at the island secondary schools, neither did it mention the status of two students struggling at the hospital from serious lacerations inflicted during the “chopping incident.”

“This violent ‘incident’ reflects the wider community and the country, said a security expert. “The symptom of hiding behind “police investigation” is astounding.

The state of events in Saint Lucia’s schools prefaces the engagement of a consultant [2022] to undertake a security audit of Saint Lucia’s education sector and make recommendations that the ministry of education – looking to implement as soon as possible.

“We have already engaged a consultant who will be doing a very thorough audit, a security audit of the whole education sector – schools and education institutions in general,” minister Edward disclosed. “I do not believe it is right, it is fair in this day and age for bandits to target schools. But bandits are bandits and they show no mercy for schools or educational institutions in our country. And let me give the assurance here this morning that the ministry of education that I lead, we do take school security very, very seriously,” Edward declared. [2022] “Creating a safe and conducive school environment remains a major priority for us at the ministry of education,” minister Edward explained in a back-to-school address, [2023].

“The security situation throughout Saint Lucia is chilling with brazen attacks in every sector of the country. The police force is a dinosaur, the policymakers are at a loss of truth or even capable of facing the reality,” a security expert told CNG. “The government has not shown that it is ready to govern. If nothing is done to change the current approach, lethal infractions will become ordinary.”

 

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