Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says there is need for an effective regulatory framework governing the operations of the funeral industry in the island.
“At present, inspections of funeral homes are carried out under the Public Health Act, but there is no specific regulation for the funeral industry… It is not enough for you to just register as a business. There is going to be need for public health certification as well,” the Minister emphasised.
Dr. Ferguson was speaking at the annual appreciation function for funeral Directors, hosted by Meadowrest Memorial Gardens, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, on March 27.
“Our Standards and Regulations Division, Environmental Health Unit and Pesticides Control Authority will ensure that there is a greater level of scrutiny and improved compliance, in order to safeguard public health and the environment,” the Minister informed.
Dr. Ferguson said it is necessary to facilitate discussions with industry players on the way forward, as “we cannot afford to have contending views about how to protect the industry, ensure its orderly development and improve the standards governing its operations."
He assured the stakeholders that placing the industry on proper regulatory footing will have no impact on the level of business activity. “In fact, you will find that those operators who earn their certification and who operate, based on guidelines, will enjoy greater public confidence and therefore higher levels of business activity,” he said.
The Minister argued that establishing the funeral industry as a sophisticated player in the business community and as a legitimate contributor to the economy, is critical.
“There are too many operators in the industry. You have an obligation to ensure that those who operate in the industry are observing proper public health standards in respect of the different aspects of the business, as this is important in terms of protecting the integrity of the industry, and to maintain public confidence in your operations. Proper attention and care must be (taken) in the storage, use and disposal of protective gear and chemicals that are essential to your operations,” he emphasised.
Dr. Ferguson said while the Government has an indispensable role to safeguard public health, the players in the industry must be vigilant to ensure that the operators are observing good public health practises, and that their workers are properly protected on a daily basis.
“There is room for the Ministry of Health and the funeral industry to work together more closely, despite our role as regulators. The logic of this position is based on the simple fact that we need each other. I am serving notice that during my tenure there will be greater focus on collaboration across the state sectors, participatory governance and stakeholder involvement in the policies and pursuits of the health sector,” he said.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter