HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR CARNIVALThursday 29th June 2017
Statement by Chief Medical Officer (Ag), Dr. James Knight
Article taken from Health Watch Antigua and Barbuda: There are two major concerns that those of us in public health and safety have at this time of year. One is the excessive consumption of alcohol by young people; the other is the lack of adequate safety measures in the street parades.
Altogether, there are probably thirty annual pre-carnival fetes. Most of these are nothing but rum fetes, and are actually advertised as such. They are also all-inclusive so that for the cost of the tickets, young people go to these sessions with the notion that they can drink their full money’s worth.
The same all-inclusive packages are offered for carnival mas players. They can drink as much as they like from the troupe’s bar while on the road.
No serious national discussion on alcohol abuse among young people can take place unless these fetes are examined.
In the case of the all-inclusive, the alcohol should be excluded or separate. One suggestion is that a limited amount of alcohol chits could be provided with the purchase of the tickets.
After all, in some countries, there are regulations for the responsible serving of alcohol. One breaks the law by serving alcohol to anyone already visibly drunk or drinking irresponsibly. Bartenders receive training and certification for that.
Then there is the lethal mixture of unlimited alcohol and dangerous circumstances. For almost a decade there are those of us in the Ministry of Health, supported by the Director of the National Office of Disaster Services, calling for, and suggesting safety measures to prevent persons on the road during parades from falling between the wheels of the parade trucks.
More than once, since 2009, drawings illustrating simple safety features to be added to the sides of the trucks, have been presented to parade organizers. Instead, wheels are covered with bits of plywood, which can only trap the hapless person who may fall before then.
What’s really needed is a simple device to prevent people from falling between the front and back wheels, and being rolled over by the latter.
Even with such a measure, there are risks that people can still take, but the overall danger is greatly reduced. As a matter of fact, the greatest remaining danger would be the lack of judgment by persons who have had excessive alcohol. We saw the tragic result of that just last year.
Meanwhile, we in the Ministry of Health and the Environment appeal to the public to exercise responsibility and caution, even in the absence of regulation.
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