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HomeNewsCaribbean NewsSt Lucia’s water-related emergency ‘presents several health hazards’, says MOH

St Lucia’s water-related emergency ‘presents several health hazards’, says MOH

– The Ministry of Health issues a heat advisory for schools … (ostensibly ignoring the rest of the population and national security apprehension) 

– Saint Lucia Meteorological Services announced the formation of a tropical wave … “expected to affect our region from Saturday afternoon into Sunday.”

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in response to the government of Saint Lucia water-related emergency per Government Gazette Vol. 193 • Issue 19 • Tuesday May 21, 2024, citing Statutory Instrument, 2024, No. 76 –  further advised:

“The current water-related emergency and shortage presents several health hazards that citizens must be vigilant about …” and concurrently “ provides-guidance to reduce the possible associated health risks, potential impacts, and provide essential safety measures to mitigate adverse effects.”

The key challenges and vulnerabilities to MOH guidance and health hazards – after – a water emergence was announced May 14, 2024, and Gazetted on May 21, 2024, summarized a lack of data and what information and human resource capital is available for the timely delivery of health and security for the people of Saint Lucia.

Compounding the current situation calls for efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change on health, water resource management and adaptation to better understand trends, early warning signals and urgent modelling for action.

Considering the MOH “guidance” and “The current water-related emergency and shortage presents several health hazards that citizens must be vigilant about, …” appears secondary to “tackled the neglect in health care and alleviated the social conditions of the poor and underprivileged, while improving citizens’ security.” ~ (Budget address 2024).

A neglected water crisis and/or efforts to downplay concerns and effects pose significant health risks. Numerous human catastrophes and tropical diseases including dengue, chikungunya, leprosy, vector-borne diseases, cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. (Threatens to dial back significant efforts to mitigate and eradicate).

St Lucia issues water-related emergency

At this stage of Saint Lucia’s water-related crisis, it is opportune for MOH at the very least inform the public on drinking-water guidelines with direct support from WASCO. And MOH, through its water safety plans and healthcare surveillance practices update the island on water and sanitation in healthcare facilities, a water safety plan approach, monitoring mechanisms and targeted actions to safeguard the people of Saint Lucia.

MOH response to date, however, demonstrates the need for a comprehensive review of the departments responsible for health and the healthcare of the people of Saint Lucia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) study, conducted in partnership with Reaching the Last Mile (RLM), a global health initiative to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), found that rising temperatures and changing weather patterns are altering the spread of vector-borne diseases, posing significant health risks.

According to MOH:The current water-related emergency and shortage presents several health hazards that citizens must be vigilant about. Among the primary concerns are:

  • Waterborne Diseases: Contaminated water sources can lead to the spread of waterborne diseases such as gastroenteritis. These illnesses pose severe risks to public health and require immediate attention and preventative measures.
  • Dehydration and Heat-Related Illnesses: Water scarcity may result in dehydration and increase susceptibility to heat-related illnesses, especially among vulnerable populations such as the elderly and children. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures without access to clean water can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
  • Sanitation Issues: Insufficient access to clean water compromises basic hygiene practices, increasing the likelihood of sanitation-related health issues such as skin infections, respiratory infections, and vector-borne diseases.

Water security is fundamental to living a healthy and productive life and is central to the right to life.

The continued poor operation, management and service delivery of the nation’s health and water systems compromise resources and supplies to meet demands in this water-related crisis, that could have been mitigated. A lack of fundamentals compromised the inability to maintain the integrity of national security and the ecosystem.

The continued effort to monetize inefficiencies and low standards is futile to change expected deliverables. Budget 2024/25 will not change expectations with the same human resource and low-quality healthcare modules.

Meanwhile, the MOH recommends safety tips and precautionary measures “to mitigate the health risks associated with the water-related emergency.”

“Boil Water Before Consumption: Practice Proper Hygiene: Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, particularly during hot weather conditions. Opt for bottled water or properly treated water sources: Monitor Symptoms: Conserve Water: Implement water conservation measures to reduce strain on existing water resources. Use water sparingly and avoid wastage wherever possible. Seek Assistance if Needed.”

A prolonged water-related crisis means Saint Lucia’s critical policy gaps, development vulnerability and water security should lead to increased measures to act(ions) for a livable society.

Moreover, towards change adaptation and sustainable development, a shift in economic development, infrastructure models, water resource management (ecosystems that provide water) and healthcare needs are most severe.

Saint Lucia has a dry season from December to May and a rainy season from June to November, inclusive of the hurricane season from June 1, 2024. Each of these weather-related patterns calls for preparation, mitigation and adaptation.

After 45 years of independence, pipe-borne water remains a challenge throughout the island. The Public Health Board observation of the increased number of unregulated food establishments on the island, is cause for alarm, amid the recently concluded Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, Saint Lucia Carnival, the island school plants and medical facilities, and other consumers of large quantities of water, should be a serious cause of anxiety.

Saint Lucia’s “current water-related emergency” coupled with mass crowd events, sanitation and hygiene practices sermons apprehensions – pre and post.

Additionally, recurrent inadequacies conjure manipulated incompetence that rewards political elites with no expected deliverables, while the legislature mandates punitive damages on consumers to compensate for their lack of leadership and proficiency.

It is opportune to reiterate“Proportionate to the slow progress of project conception, execution and completion trends away from achieving the expected results to safe drinking water – The John Compton Dam and WASCO are prime examples of incompetence from successive administrations.”

Saint Lucia’s lawmakers, successive governments and statutory bodies must reform from a high level of inefficiency and mediocrity to a level of leadership and trust that is amplified throughout and beyond the shores of the island with gravitas.

The continual acceptance of everyday distrust is emblematic of the “current water-related emergency – is again – regressive to living a healthy existence and punitive, based on maladministration and the consequence that water is life.

Meanwhile, MOH issues a heat advisory for schools (ostensibly ignoring the rest of the population and national security apprehension) and advises the administration and staff of all schools, parents and guardians to avoid exposure of students to direct sunlight, particularly between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Conversely, The Saint Lucia Meteorological Services weather report, May 23, 2024, reads: “A tropical wave over the central Tropical Atlantic is moving westward near 20 mph or 31 km/h and is expected to affect our region from Saturday afternoon into Sunday.”

The choice is simple – “Put people first” – Act Now!

@GlobalCaribbean  fav

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