Published on : Monday, October 16, 2017
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett said, “We can no longer ignore or give insufficient attention to the imminent threat of pandemics and, if we fail to do so, world tourism faces a myriad of global challenges in the event of a world pandemic”.
The minister was addressing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) / World Bank discussion on World Bank presentation on the tourism industry and pandemics at the IMF/World Bank annual meeting in Washington, DC last Friday. He told the delegates that among these threats are the possibility of location quarantines, fear to use airports and other centers of mass gatherings, fear of not knowing what to do in case of illness in a foreign land, the need for speedy diagnosis and cross-border medical insurance.
Minister Bartlett also pointed out that the world is nowhere near safe from the next pandemic.
He highlighted citing evidence that the number of new diseases per decade has increased nearly fourfold in the past 60 years, and since 1980, the number of outbreaks per year has almost tripled.
The Minister said that there was the recent Ebola outbreak in 2014 which accounted for over 11,000 deaths, the HIV/AIDS pandemic which has affected more than 75 million people since its detection in 1981 and has resulted in over 35 million mortalities, and more recently, there have been deadly outbreaks caused by migratory insect carriers such as the Chikungunya and the Zika viruses both transmitted through mosquito bite.
Minister Bartlett cited a lot of measures for combating the threat of pandemics. He said that there needs to be active networks involving all major tour operators, airports, cruise liners, attraction parks and other service providers, reserve human resources personnel with the skills and training to manage emergency cases, regular simulation exercises that include private and public sector participation, and strong participation of international organizations.