Health Minister to address Chief Health Inspector’s comments

Minister of Health, Hon Molwyn Joseph
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By Carlena Knight

Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph is slated to make a formal response some time this week to comments made by the Chief Health Inspector, who recently stated that there is a lack of communication with the Central Board of Health (CBH) and other government officials.

Sharon Martin, while speaking on Observer AM on Monday, claimed her department has constantly been left out of the loop during the discussion stages in regards to the reopening of restaurants and, most recently, barbershops and beauty salons.

“Well, I was never contacted prior to issuing the opening to food service establishments, neither barbershops and beauty salons; I just heard it like you,” she said.

She is of the opinion that if the CBH was involved in the planning process, then their tasks could have been more adequately carried out.

Instead, she said, her department learned of the decision to reopen certain businesses the same time as the rest of the public, leaving them with insufficient time to adequately assess all the business places.

“Given the nature of the job we do, it would have been the best thing that we sat down and planned the way forward so we could have given a timeline as to when it would be most favourable to do so and it would also give us more time to plan and strategise the way forward in terms of conducting inspections of these establishments and inform the government, ‘well give us a week because in a week’s time we’ll be able to complete inspections’.

“I don’t think we have sufficient time. Given the number of business places, we need time and we don’t want to be rushing through in conducting inspections. So had we been involved at that stage we would have been better able to instruct as to what time because we would have calculated the number of business places, attach a timeline to each and come up with a proper reopening time,” she added.

The Chief Health Inspector also addressed allegations that she is not fulfilling her duties as a number of individuals have questioned her absence at recent press briefings held by other government health officials.

“I am always on the job. From before 6 in the morning, I hit the streets running and sometimes I don’t return home based on the situation until after 6, sometimes 7 in the night. I am available and if I am called to represent but if I am not called then what I am to do? Go and make argument about not being called? I wouldn’t do that. I am just going to continue functioning. People see me out there [and] carry out my duties and that is what matters to me. What is there to be done, I do,” Martin added.

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