Nassau, 28 May 2015 – Making good on the government’s promise to identify expert assistance to support its ongoing Rubis health investigations, Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez welcomed Netherlands born Toxicologist Dr. Rik Van de Weerdt to the team during a briefing session at the Ministry of Health today.
“I am pleased to note that a Toxicologist all the way from the Netherlands is here in The Bahamas to assist us in the issues surrounding the Rubis oil spill. The government is living up to its promises and we hope that we will be much better off as a ministry and a country as a result of these consultations” said the Health Minister. He also advised that an Epidemiologist with extensive experience in working with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is scheduled to join the team of health consultants shortly.
Also welcoming Dr. Weerdt was Chief Medical Officer Dr. Glen Beneby.
“We are very pleased to welcome the Toxicologist at the invitation of PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) at our request to help us prepare the road map going forward on the Rubis oil spill” said Dr. Beneby. He said that he was happy that Dr. Weerdt had started his work and pointed out that the Ministry has compiled information from the incident that will be shared with Dr. Weerdt to be used as a reference point in his consultative work.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) were instrumental in securing the services of Dr. Weerdt and according to its representative for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Kelly Kavanagh Salmond, PAHO seeks to achieve two main objectives during this process. One is to support the ongoing government protocols as requested and the other is to engage in dialogue with specific organizations to establish a road map going forward and incorporating their recommendations into the team’s overall strategy. Additionally, Ms. Salmond advised that under PAHO’s human resource regime, surveillance and response to chemical events and incidences are also taken into account when recommendations are made.