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NGO Senator Calls out MOHW for a Lack of Communication

The flow of information out of the Ministry of Health has not been ideal for media coverage. Often times our texts and calls go unanswered, as was the case today when we sought a breakdown of the new SI amendments. It is a problem that we have cited over time and had even asked the Prime Minister to intervene. It seems our newsroom is not the only one with limited access to information. NGO Senator, Osmany Salas highlighted the lack of communication in the health sector saying that there needs to be the development of a program such as Ask the Expert.

Osmany Salas, Senator for NGOs: “I’ve already reached out to several people in authority expressing my frustration and concern about some of these things. One of it has to do with consistent application of the law and the other one has to do with our monitoring and enforcement capacity. So whenever SIs are amended or new SIs being put in place as far as COVID regulations I would urge the government to keep in mind our monitoring and enforcement capacity. Because if we put things in place that are very difficult or next to impossible to monitor across the board every corner of our country you have to wonder about how effective that will be. So the legal draft persons that put these things together need to consider that. So this gives you the opportunity to say, and the Prime Minister referred to this I think at the recent House meeting that there was a national level COVID-19 committee,  I would like to see such a committee activated or reactivated because we need to look at this not only from the medical standpoint – and yes that is of absolute importance – but we also need to get input and feedback from the other sectors. The economic sectors for example right ? So I recall the COVID-19 oversight taskforce I think that was under the previous administration something like that needs to be put in place again and probably more importantly is that we need to have sustained communication programs to explain the SIs and the regulations so that we do not have varying interpretations of the regulations and I have seen and heard of a lot of this happening. I’ve seen it in my own home town in Orange Walk where my family owns a restaurant and business has been suffering but we’ve heard of other restaurants on another day of the week that had people dining inside full to capacity right ? So I completely understand those things should not be permitted but it also has to be the responsibility of citizens because the enforcement agencies will not be able to be in every nook and cranny and corner at any given point in time so we need to be our own brothers and sister’s keepers. Now I had the opportunity, I could have had the opportunity to say here and there I will allow somebody to dine at my place nobody would know but I am a responsible citizen I won’t go there. So this is where the government needs to ensure that whatever is put in place we have the capacity to monitor it not just pass it onto the private sector, no that also is not responsible or the way to go. It needs to be a shared responsibility but I want this message to be shared. We need to go back to programs like Ask the Experts where we have the minister or the medical doctors and or the Attorney General and others explaining what the regulations mean in simple language because as you have various amendments to the SIs for you to really know what the full set of regulations mean you have to dig up the original SI, the various amendments and try to stitch it together. So we need consolidated SIs and we need explanations that is absolutely important in the meantime once that is not done there will be confusion and varying and inconsistent interpretation to the rights.”