Minister of Health and Human Services Hon. Jamell Robinson and his technocratic team sat down with members of the media on Monday in a luncheon atmosphere, to hear their concerns, suggestions and how both could work together in synergy going forward.
The discussion was no-holds-barred, as the minister and his team fielded questions and suggestions from members of the Fourth Estate.
Outside of the media being made aware that some of the policy decisions that Minister Robinson and his team shared were either off the record or embargoed, a wide range of topics were covered, including the government’s plan for solid waste, scrap metal export, public health and the high cost of foods, especially healthy foods.
He also heard what appeared to be frustration from the media on the matter of getting timely information, not just from his ministry but across all government ministries.
Minister Robinson and his team also discussed digitizing government, to lessen the arduous task of flipping through hundreds of papers, to track information.
The matter of government emphasizing certain information to the public to avoid miscommunication, misinformation, disinformation and/ or misunderstandings was also fleshed out.
One of the poignant matters – the planned implementation of the Destination Marketing and Management Organisation (DMMO) and the Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) – which government is now in process of implementing to replace the Tourist Board, was one of the examples used to paint the apparent disconnect between government and the populace, and the need to hammer home such critical information ad nauseam.
The Progressive National Party (PNP) administration had outlined in its manifesto the revamping of the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board. Then finance minister Hon. Washington Misick again spoke about it during his budget presentation. But it appeared the public was not paying attention on those occasions.
As a result, there have been certain levels of miscommunication taking place within the public sphere, with some describing the government’s decision as a ‘Nicodemus move’.
Some members of the media, during the meeting, took the blame for not paying more attention to that piece of critical information, and dissemination of it to the public, to create better awareness.
At the end of the two-hour-long meeting, which had a combination of serious as well as light moments, Minister Robinson promised he would continue to open the line of communication with the media even wider, to generate better public awareness.
The minister’s team comprised Director for Environmental Health Kenrick Neely; Head of the Health and Advocacy Unit, Aldora Robinson; and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeremy Claude Myers.