St. Lucians on heat stroke alert as drought conditions persist
Saint Lucia’s Ministry of Health has put the public on alert for increased risk of heat stroke and other heatrelated illnesses in light of the continuing drought conditions affecting the island.
Heat stroke, also known as sunstroke, is a severe illness caused by the body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged physical exertion in high temperatures.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sharon Belmar-George noted that people engaged in strenuous activities, the very young, the very old, people who are ill or have underlying diseases such as heart disease or high blood pressure were most at risk of suffering from heat stroke.
“If you can, avoid being in the direct sun for an excessive period during the times of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is particularly hot, especially for small children who can be very active during that period,” she said, urging adults to reduce children’s exposure to direct sun and ensure that children playing outside are re-hydrated.
“As adults we should avoid alcohol during the very hot periods as much as possible,” Dr. Belmar-George added. “Also be vigilant of the elderly who may be outside.”
The normal signs and symptoms of heat stroke include: body temperature greater than 104 degrees fahrenheit; altered mental behaviour including confusion, agitation and slurred speech. The ministry said people may also develop gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, and their breathing may become very rapid and shallow.
“The most important thing is for us to prevent and be vigilant both for us and our family members in the very hot and dry conditions out there,” Dr. Belmar-George said.
The drought situation also forced government to declare a water emergency for all parts of the island last month. The alert is in place until July 31. It said the dry spell could last until August.
Land-use planning is a term generally used to encompass various disciplines which seek to order and regulate land use in an efficient and ethical way, thus preventing land-use conflicts. Governments use land-use planning to manage the development of land within their jurisdictions. Land-use planning incorporates the disciplines of physical planning, urban and rural planning, town and country planning, regional planning and environmental planning and the professionals who practice therein. In Saint Lucia, the terms ‘physical planner’ or ‘urban planner’ are generally applied to the professionals who have been trained in the theory and practice of land-use planning. These physical planners develop plans and recommend policies for managing land use, physical facilities and associated services for urban and rural areas, and including remote regions. Therefore, it stands to reason that the majority of these professionals are employed or have been employed at some point, within the public service in order to provide the requisite guidance to policymakers.
However, during the past two decades, there has been a dilution of planning principles, practices and the general planning profession in Saint Lucia. This may be attributed in part, to the limited recognition afforded to planning practice, given that it is often described within academia as an “imprecise science”. The application of sound land-use planning principles in Saint Lucia has also been impeded by the dearth of professionals who have received specific training as planning professionals, thereby resulting in the relegation of the practice to Engineers, Surveyors, Architects and other land development professionals.
This situation, although having reached near crisis point, is not unique to Saint Lucia, but is seen replicated globally, and even within the more developed countries. The image of the planner has generally been reduced to that of a rusty public servant locked away in the recesses of the planning or development control office, and who utilizes maps and plans to determine the developmental fate of the country. As such, the profession, though highly essential, has remained devoid of the glamour and prominence normally associated with the other professionals involved in development of the physical landscape, such as architects, engineers and surveyors.
A professional association is normally defined as group of professionals within a specific field of expertise who come together in order to promote and secure the interest and practice of the profession, while safeguarding the public interest. In so doing, such organizations are given the dual mandate of overseeing the legitimate practice of the occupation, in a manner which generally serves the interest of the public, while simultaneously protecting the integrity of the profession. Such organizations may also seek to maintain their own privileges and control of the profession within their geographical jurisdiction.
The Saint Lucia Institute of Land-Use Planners(SLILUP) emerged out of the need to reconcile the revival of the planning profession while ensuring that public interest and the future sustainable development of the island are secured. The SLILUP will be officially launched on Wednesday, 10 June, 2015 at the Bay Gardens Hotel, Rodney Bay.
This event will occur during the first day of the fifth Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF5) which is scheduled to take place 10th-12th June, 2015 at the Bay Gardens Hotel and Inn, Rodney Bay. The CUF is a converging of professionals involved in the planning the development of the built environment, and it provides a platform to facilitate discussions and presentations on matters related to the planning profession and practice in the region. The primary theme for the CUF5 is Island System Planning which highlights the issues and approaches to planning issues which may be unique to island states such as ours.
The CUF5 will be jointly hosted by SLILUP, the Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management (CNULM), Caribbean Planners Association, the OECS and CARILED. The CUF has been previously hosted by Guyana (2011), Jamaica (2012), Trinidad and Tobago (2013) and Barbados (2014). The event will also welcome the participation of the American Planners Association (APA), Canadian Planners Association (CPA), the International Development Bank (IDB) and UNHABITAT.
Proper planning is required for one of our resources: the land.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sharon Belmar-George.