Port of Spain, November 24, 2009: The Ministry of Health wishes to assure the national community that all systems are in place to cater for the health needs of the population and visitors during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting next week. The entire national health system is on emergency alert pre-CHOGM and on maximum alert on actual CHOGM days.

Details are as follows:


The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will result in around 8,000 persons visiting Trinidad and Tobago between November 24th and November 30th 2009.  The Ministry of Health is a key part of the CHOGM Emergency Services Sub-Committee, formed to plan, coordinate and implement emergency medical care  for the (51) Heads of Delegations / States and Foreign Ministers, as well as their Spouses, delegates of the Youth, People’s and Business Forums, Media, Secretarial  and other staff.  The health sector will also be a part of the Disaster Response led by the security forces.  Emergency Services Sub-Committee procedures used for the Fifth Summit of the Americas will also be used for CHOGM.

Emergency Services Sub-Committee

Advanced Medical Stations (AMS) will be located 24/7 at all the hotels where participants will be staying, as well as the two (2) national airports, the Port of Spain sea port and CHOGM venue sites.  These will provide on-site emergency care.   Each AMS will be staffed by a physician, (2) nurses, (2) EMT-B, a volunteer and an ambulance with ALT equipment and its respective team.   There are also roving medical stations which will respond to hotels and other locations which do not have a fixed AMS.  The two (2) participating cruise ships, the Caribbean Princess and the Serenade of the Seas, will have their own medical services on board.  The AMTs will provide back-up medical care to these cruise ships.  

Muster points have been clearly identified at all CHOGM venues, airports, sea ports and accommodating hotels.

Medical staffing will be used from the various Regional Heath Authorities (RHA’s).  Whereas some will be on duty during the CHOGM days, many others will be on call in the event there are any large scale medical emergencies requiring the mobilization of various health facilities, additional staffing and specialist medical teams.

Our entire national health system is on emergency alert pre-CHOGM and on maximum alert on actual CHOGM days.  Both the public and private health facilities will be utilized to respond to medical emergencies.  All hospitals will be used but as the Port of Spain Hospital is in the zone of major activity we expect that their emergency services would respond immediately supported by the others if the need is required.  Private health facilities will be mobilized if any excess health care capacity is required.

 Important Notes

 1)    Routine medical services will continue as normal during CHOGM. All participating institutions have tested their emergency and disaster plans over two simulation exercises.

2)    Public health surveillance monitoring will be done on a daily basis for water and food safety as well as for infectious diseases.  Microbiological testing has been ongoing every day at each hotel and CGOGM site to be used, both pre-CHOGM and during CHOGM. 

3)    In regards to Influenza A /H1N1, CHOGM delegates have been advised to delay travel, if ill and while at CHOGM to utilize proper sanitary practices.  Medical cards will be given to all CHOGM attendees with recommended health care practices and providing instructions for where to go and call for medical attention.