… first of its kind worldwide
The Public Health Ministry in collaboration with the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) launched the Guyana Tourism and Health Programme (GHTP) with the aim of protecting and monitoring the health of tourists as well as locals.
The Tourism and Health Programme was developed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) with funding from the Inter-American Developmental Bank (IDB) and was launched at the Umana Yana by Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings.
CARPHA Tourism and Health Programme head, Dr Lisa Indar, told the gathering that the programme, which was launched earlier this week, is the first of its kind globally and thus Guyana, along with the Caribbean, is setting an international precedent as it relates to the health of tourists and locals.
She noted that the Caribbean is heavily dependent on tourism and is affected by major disease outbreaks. She added that the programme aims to also improve the country’s capacity to provide cost effective and quality heath, food safety and environmental sanitation to health, safety and environmental threats.
The programme will see the development of a regional tourism health information, surveillance, monitoring and response system; credible Caribbean-wide health, safety and environmental sanitation tourism standards with certification schemes and capacity building in food safety and environmental sanitation.
Indar said inadequate health monitoring/response systems, the absence of standards/certification and lack of training has contributed to the spread of disease outbreaks and food safety and environmental issues in the Region. This, she noted, led CARPHA to sign a ‘landmark’ agreement with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) to execute the tourism and health program.
She added that there are other Caribbean countries are approaching CARPHA, with their own funding, to implement the programme.
Head of the GTA, Indranauth Haralsingh welcomed the initiative, noting that it will see strengthened development in the regional tourism and health sector.
“This project will also strengthen human resource capacity and skills in health, food safety and environmental management and promote Public-Private Sector intersect oral partnerships at the national and regional levels,” Haralsingh explained.
Junior Public Health Minister, Dr Karen Cummings, lauded the effort to make the tourism industry economically viable while ensuring health standards and best practices are upheld.
“This launch of the health programme in conjunction with the tourism sector is timely and fitting as it envisions the establishment of a web based disease surveillance system for hotels,” Cummings said.
She stressed that the need for data driven systems cannot be over emphasised, since it will aid in the facilitation of easier monitoring and instant access to information on hotels and tourism facilities. “In the light of improved information system better intervention procedures can be implemented,” she added.
CARPHA’s Executive Director, Dr James Hospedales, noted that the programme have been developed with the more modern Caribbean in mind and noted with the vast categories of tourism, in Guyana, there will be the need for adaptation. He also stressed the need for all agencies to collaborate to ensure the success of the programme.
The Tourism Health Programme will address the HSE threats impacting on sustainable tourism in the Caribbean through an integrated approach of combining surveillance, training and standards.