Director of the Environmental Health Unit in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Everton Baker, is encouraging public health inspectors to safeguard their well-being, even as they perform their duties.
“Let me remind you that while we strive to safeguard the health of the public, we ought to be mindful of our own individual health. Exercise, a balanced diet and routine medical assessments are very important inputs,” he emphasised.
Mr. Baker was addressing the 73rd Annual Jamaica Association of Public Health Inspectors (JAPHI) Educational Conference opening ceremony at the Grand Palladium Resort in Hanover, on Tuesday (October 22).
The Director pointed out that the country continues to grapple with the increased number of non-communicable disease (NCD) cases, spending more than $22 billion annually to diagnose and treat preventable diseases.
Meanwhile, Mr. Baker told public health inspectors that the Ministry is cognisant of the efforts being made by JAPHI in ensuring the development and welfare of its members, and is committed to strengthening the partnership it has built with the association over the years.
He also commended members of JAPHI for their “steadfastness, professionalism and dedication in public health, in general, and environmental health, in particular”.
The theme for the conference, ‘Contemporary environmental health challenges: Innovative strategies for solutions’, was deemed as fitting by Mr. Baker, “as you face new challenges, for example, climate change, and your role as an association in building partnership for the continued sustainable delivery of environmental health in Jamaica”.
He also noted that the theme brings into focus the new and innovative strategies that are backed by scientific and evidence-driven approaches that public health inspectors will have to continue to utilise for acceptable community-wide solutions.
For his part, President of JAPHI, Paul Ximines, highlighted that climate change is a clear and present danger to public health.
“Climate change have been bandied as the root cause of several public health issues, both directly and indirectly,” he said.
The President also encouraged public health inspectors to band together, despite the many challenges encountered on the job.
“The time has come for us to stamp our authority on the society in our areas of expertise. Let’s rebrand, regroup and reaffirm our roles,” he said.
During the ceremony, the organisation awarded children of members who had outstanding performances in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams, and outstanding public health students from the University of Technology.
JAPHI also awarded outstanding public health inspectors from across the island, with the overall Public Inspector of the Year Award going to St. Ann-based public health inspector, Mandalee Cross.
The JAPHI conference, which ends on October 24, seeks to explore best practices in public health; trade facilitation and food safety; and the changing face of vector control.