Given that lifestyle diseases are major causes of mortality and impairment in Trinidad and Tobago, greater effort needs to be made to educate the public on healthy eating and to encourage greater participation in exercise. A major concern is that of obesity. The COP will work with stakeholders to decrease the level of sugar in drinks which are permitted to be sold to children on school premises. Stratagies o reduce trans fats in foods will also be considered. The school feeding programme will be carefully reviewed to ensure that the meals served are appropriate for our children.
Efforts will be made to improve the delivery of services by health care professionals at health centres and hospitals. Strategies for improved disease surveillance at the community level will be developed and implemented to minimize impact of these diseases in all communities. Additional training to improve customer care and service would be provided to all staff members of public health institutions in Trinidad and Tobago.
The response time of the Ambulance Service and the quality of services provided by Paramedics needs significant improvement. This will require additional ambulances, increased staff and comprehensive geographic analyses would be undertaken so as to ensure that the service response is optimized. Additionally, ICT will be leveraged to track all ambulances so that health care professionals can be better prepared to deal with incoming patients to the emergency wards.
Mosquitoes pose public health threat as they carry dengue, chikungunya and other diseases. The major approach to control has been the use of chemical pesticides which varies in effectiveness due to development of chemical resistance and which may pose long term health risks. Although programmes which integrate biological, chemical and cultural control practices have been successfully implemented in Trinidad and Tobago for control of agricultural pests, there has not been sufficient focus on developing these approaches for pests of public health importance. To achieve this, the following is proposed:
- Enhancing the capacity of the Insect Vector Control Division of the Ministry of Health;
- Monitoring of spread of invasive species threats and control strategies;
- Support for research to ensure better understanding of the usefulness of local biodiversity for biological control;
- Removal of tyres and the clearing of empty lots which can serve as breeding grounds for these pests;
- Introduction of public education programmes
The COP is not in support of the application of short term thinking to deal with poverty, maternal and child health and infant nutrition, including breastfeeding. Such serious problems can only be dealt with through the development of national, holistic, sustainable and scientifically approved and applied policies and programs.
A National Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy within an Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy, is urgently needed to deal with the question of poverty, maternal and infant obesity, the non-communicable diseases, all of which are intimately inter-related.