St. Lu­cians on heat stroke alert as drought con­di­tions persist

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

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.

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