Lucea mayor accuses Tufton of 'playing politics'

Observer writer

Saturday, January 12, 2019

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LUCEA, Hanover — Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels has blasted Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton for his recent site visit to the Black Gate community in Hopewell, Hanover, claiming such a move by the minister can be categorised as “playing politics”.

On Wednesday, Dr Tufton and vector control workers visited the community as part of his planned trips to each parish over the next few days, particularly those that are deemed to have a high infestation of mosquitoes, to see what additional assistance is needed and can be provided.

The site visit took place following a strategy meeting involving a Hanover public health team — including the medical officer for the parish Dr Kaushal Singh, as well as Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor for the Lucea division, Easton Edwards, among others.

While addressing Thursday's regular monthly meeting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation, a visibly upset Mayor Samuels, in admonishing the minister, argued that, in his opinion, the Black Gate community was selected for the purpose of “political campaigning and parading”.

“When we are having a crisis, and we want to resolve things, we don't mix the politics into it. And without a doubt, to me it is clear politics why the minister reached the Black Gate community, where we don't have a concern; it is on the hill. I don't hear of any dengue outbreak out there... If you come to do your work, do your work and leave the politics out of it. And this is what I realise the minister is doing, dressing up in camouflage green and going around...” expressed Samuels.

He added: “The minister really have to look into himself, and if he cares about the well-being of the people of this parish or Jamaica, go out there and do the work and leave the politics out of it. You can't be working and campaigning at the same time and this is my opinion, base on what I have seen.”

The Black Gate community is located in the Hopewell Division, which is represented by the JLP's Devon Brown.

Brown, however, was not present at the strategy meeting, neither the site visit to Black Gate, claiming that he was not aware of them.

It is understood, that the Hanover Municipal Corporation, which is the chair of the local board of health, was not officially invited to the meeting held at Noel Holmes Hospital in the parish on Wednesday.

People's National Party's councillor for the Green Island Division Marvell Sewell, who was in support of the mayor, argued that councillors “who can contribute to what is happening in their divisions were not invited to the strategy meeting”.

“How can we, the political directorate, be a part of the solution to fight dengue when we are going to get second-hand information? We should be in that meeting so that we could talk about the problems we are having in our divisions,” stated Sewell.

Sewell further argued that the health department is now soliciting the assistance of the corporation, “while if all seven councillors from both sides of the political fence were in attendance, they could have made a contribution to the meeting”.

The health department's parish manager, Dawn Harvey, later told the meeting that her department only has one vehicle to undertake vector control activities across the parish, and was in need of support to get additional vehicles and also to communicate the dengue sensitisation message to the public.

The parish, so far, has no confirmed case of dengue.

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