Gov't being urged to establish national commission on COVID-19Friday, March 05, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The IDB Jamaica Civil Society Consulting Group is calling on the Government to establish a National Commission on COVID-19 that would help to drive a more strategic, proactive, and enhanced response to the raging pandemic.
According to Dr Carolyn Gomes, civil society representative to the Access to COVID Tools Accelerator (ACTA) Partnership, “this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic requires a coordinated response that involves input from all national stakeholders.”
Dr Gomes said the national commission would include critical groups such as the private sector, tourism, manufacturers, the public and private health sector partners, the churches, unions, civil society, and the political parties. This would allow “the Government to receive advice and guidance for the country's efforts to reduce prevalence and limit spread as we implement the national vaccination strategy into 2022” said Dr Gomes.
The group is also advocating for the Government to revise its test, trace and isolate strategy based on revised algorithms. It is also calling for the Medical Association of Jamaica and other players in private and public health to become involved in advocacy for wider use and reporting of antigen RDTS and PCRs in COVID-19 infection control to augment the overstretched capacity of the public health sector as called for by Dr Gomes. Support for developing and deploying the necessary widened testing strategy is available from the ACTA, Dr Gomes explained.
The group is also encouraging better social distancing and mask wearing enforcement. It is urging the Government to undertake a widespread programme to distribute masks with the aid of town criers who can help to spread the message.
IDB Jamaica Country Representative and General Manager for the Caribbean Country Department, Therese Turner- Jones, is also encouraging stronger private sector engagement, stating that the sector had a greater role to play in leading the charge such as facilitating testing in workplaces, promoting stronger adherence to health protocols, and implementing work from home policies and arrangements where feasible.
'The private sector needs to be stronger in the enforcement of mask wearing and social distancing protocols within their establishments. They must also be extremely sensitive and accommodating especially with schools now operating mostly in a virtual format.
“Children need proper supervision and safe spaces to conduct online schooling and optimal parental and guardian support are critical. With the vaccines virtually on our doorsteps every effort needs to be made to encourage persons who fall within the relevant target groups to take the vaccine. The private sector can help in the public education programming,” Turner-Jones explained.
The group also welcomed Government's move to halt to face-to-face schooling except for Grades 6, 12 and 13 students as well as the introduction of negative tests for all visitors and returning residents.
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