Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton has noted the need to pursue ‘Health in All Policies’, as Jamaica and the Region of the Americas strive to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Health in All Policies (HiAP) must now not only be a cliché that we call upon when convenient, it must become a way of life. Businesses must now build into their operation plans, attention to infection prevention and control, emergency response plans and contingency plans for health emergencies,” the Minister said.
HiAP reflects an approach that integrates and articulates health considerations into policymaking across sectors to improve the health of individuals and communities, recognising the many factors that contribute to health.
“The promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the implementation of workplace policies that ensure a healthy workforce will contribute to a stable workforce,” he added.
The Minister was speaking earlier today at an event hosted on the sidelines of the 59th PAHO Directing Council meeting for which he is chair. The event was titled ‘A comprehensive response to tackle the prolonged crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic: The strategic link between health and the economy’.
His statements come against the background of economies under severe strain from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has led to a global recession which has been described as the ‘deepest’ since the end of World War II. In 2020, the global economy which was forecasted to grow by 3.4 per cent contracted by 3.5 per cent,” the Minister said.
“Despite this, the world economy, according to the World Bank, ‘is poised to stage its most robust post-recession recovery in the last 80 years, in 2021. But the rebound is expected to be uneven across countries, as major economies look set to register strong growth even as many developing economies lag behind’,” he added.
Latin America and the Caribbean, the Minister explained, are characterised by a high dependence on imports of raw materials, medicines, and other health technologies from other regions.
“The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimates that in 2018, only 4% of a Latin American and Caribbean series of health products imports came from the sub region itself. This forecast of a vastly different recovery process for developed and developing countries will result in many countries in our region grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for a very long time,” he said.
The Minister added that figures from the Planning Institute of Jamaica show that for Fiscal Year 2020/21, from April 2020 to March 2021, the island’s real GDP contracted by an estimated 11.0%.
“Most industries have been affected due to reductions in the demand and supply of goods and services. The largest contractions were recorded in the high-contact industries such as hotels & restaurants (down 65.5%), other service industries, which include recreation, entertainment & sporting activities (down 28.2%), and transport, storage & communication (down 13.6%),” he explained.
“The contraction in economic activities has affected employment. There was an 11.9% reduction in employment in July 2020 relative to January 2020. To put this into perspective, employment in Jamaica declined by 7.7% over a three-year period due to the global economic crisis, which started in 2008. The impacts of COVID-19 are obviously worse,” he added.
It is critical therefore that stakeholders work together for recovery.
“As the health system must learn to accommodate COVID-19, so also must the business sector. Several factors will affect recovery. The ability of firms and workers to pivot, to implement policies to stem the spread of the infection in the workplace, and to apply innovations to allow businesses to continue, despite COVID-19, will make a difference in our recovery efforts,” the Minister said.
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