CARPHA collaborates with Turks and Caicos to Implement a Health surveillance system for early warning and response to tourism related illness in Hotels

CARPHA, in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Authority and the Hotel and Tourism Association, Turks and Caicos, hosted a two day Hotel Based Surveillance Workshop during the month of January 2015.

Dr. Indar, Tourism and Health Programme Coordinator at CARPHA, stated that the purpose of the workshop was to build capacity in the hotel industry and implement a hotel-based surveillance system that will identify visitors who become ill in the Turks and Caicos in a timely manner and allow for a rapid and appropriate response and intervention. She went on to say that the establishment of hotel-based surveillance will promote sustainable tourism in the TCI. Given TCI dependence on tourism and its high end tourism product, it is essential to ensure that negative health events be avoided or prevented." 
The meeting focused on demonstrating the critical need for hotel-based surveillance through the emerging public health pathogens that have the potential to affect the Tourism industry; and mechanisms to establish hotel based surveillance in the islands. Norovirus, a highly contagious virus that can be easily spread from person to person, and the leading causes of outbreaks in hotels worldwide, was high on the agenda.
The TCI Tourist Board indicated their commitment to promoting that the training become mandatory and as part of their inspection and licensing process. A focal point for the initiative was assigned to ensure this undertaking.

The formation of an integrated steering committee was one of the recommendations coming out of the workshop. This would include representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Board and the Hotel Association. Other key recommendations included:
  • Undertake a feasibility study of the hotel based surveillance from February to April 2015, and establish a hotel based surveillance before start of next high season
  • Develop threshold values for reporting gastro illness using past data
  • Conduct food and environmental safety assessments, raining and outbreak simulation exercises during May –June
  • Develop protocols and manuals for comprehensive tourism and health program
  • Revise hospital forms to allow for surveillance of tourism related illness
  • Work with hotels to get commitment from preferred (private) physicians to report

In addition to hotel based surveillance, CARPHA, with the Ministry of Health and the Grand Turk Cruise Authority, also piloted a Cruise Ship Protocol on an arrival ship in the Grand Turk cruise port. Similarly, this protocol aims to alert relevant persons on illnesses among passengers and crew in cruise ships in an early manner   in order to trigger rapid and appropriate response and intervention.

The THP program is a joint program being implemented by CARPHA, CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organisation) and CHTA (Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association) with the goal of improving the health, safety, quality and sustainability of the Caribbean tourism industry. CARPHA's Tourism and Health Programme was launched in May 2014.

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