Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Vector control and food and water safety are high on the priority list for the Environmental Health Division as efforts continue to restore, prevent and protect the community from environmental health related diseases.
Chief Environmental Health Officer, Mr. Lionel Michael, said that the drinking water supply should be safe for all uses which include domestic and personal. He advised that water in cisterns or tanks should be treated by boiling or by adding chlorine components which include bleach or tablets.
In terms of food safety, the Chief said that establishments and street food vendors should be trained to handle food, a process which arms them with the necessary information to fight microorganisms and food borne diseases. “Food Handlers’ Clinics on Tortola and Virgin Gorda will resume shortly,” Mr. Michael said.
He also advised persons operating a food business to ensure that they have a consistent supply of power and water and that the water is treated and safe. “As we continue to inspect these businesses, we want to make sure that they meet at least the minimum requirements, which include having hand-washing accommodations and facilities to keep the food hot and cold.”
Households without a steady electrical supply are advised to only buy food that can be consumed in a short period of time. “Prepare it and consume it at the same time as much as possible. Make sure you have something that allows water to flow on both hands at the same time, because properly cleaned hands can prevent a multitude of gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses,” the Chief advised.
He also noted that as a result of our current wet conditions and excessive stagnant water from open structures, the division has intensified their response and actions towards dealing with mosquitoes.
Persons can assist by continuing to do their weekly surveillance to find and eliminate mosquito breeding sites.
“If we all work together and take on a community approach to solving the issues at hand, we will be one step closer to ensuring environmental resilience,” Mr. Michael concluded.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is committed to improving the health of the people of the Virgin Islands.