A recommendation has been made for a harmonised building code across the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
That’s according to Health, Wellness and the Environment Minister Molwyn Joseph who noted that, although this is not a new issue, based on the infrastructural devastation caused by hurricane Irma in Barbuda in 2017, this has now become an “urgent” matter for the island and the concept of building codes should be expanded.
“Because of what Antiguans and Barbudans have experienced, when you are preparing for disasters, especially in the health sector, it’s not the integrity of the building alone you have to be thinking about. You have to go beyond that,” he said.
Joseph continued, “You have to think about the occupants of that building. In the hospital, there are sick people and it is not easy to have sick people moved out from where they are to go to shelters. What do you do with people who are mentally ill? You cannot put them in shelters. These are the things that we have to face so we have to look at our institutions.”
He said the perception of building codes, should consider how a facility is erected, in order to facilitate people who cannot be moved into shelters.
“Which means that, if you are building a shelter or you are preparing a hospital during a storm, you have to have accommodation for nurses and doctors to stay, and in Antigua and Barbuda, we are going to be looking at what we can do immediately,” Joseph said.
The minister added that the issue at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre is “easier to manage” since the hospital has a well-developed emergency plan, during disasters while greater focus needed to be placed on other institutions.
“We now also have to look at how we manage disasters, emergencies, at the Clarevue Hospital and Fiennes institute,” the minister said.