Migrant Health Back in Operation says Ministry of Health – Magnetic Media
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, August 20, 2022 – Interim upgrades to the Migrant Health Unit have been completed and the unit is ready for operation after the moratorium on health certificates, which the office provides, expired on August 1.
The public was told the moratorium was imposed on the certificates after the Department of Health discovered ‘integrity issues’ with the database containing the certificates earlier this year.
“In an attempt to rectify the [Integrity issues] this caused a lot of backup issues. It’s just because we were trying to make sure that all of the records that are in the database are records that we can rely on,” E. Jay Saunders, acting health minister, told a briefing. press conference held on August 8.
The acting minister would not say where the integrity issues stemmed from, saying only that the department was concerned that it would not be able to authenticate every record.
“I wouldn’t want to come here at this point and speculate on why they had integrity issues because otherwise you might lead people to jump to a conclusion that they don’t.”
Dr. Jeremy Myers, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, confirmed that there had been serious levels of fraudulent certificates presented across the island, particularly from Haiti. The certificates contained discrepancies with names and date of vaccination.
“We’ve seen cards that didn’t conform to any global standard, we can write a book in terms of discrepancies we found. It was really bad. He said: ‘We don’t have an exact percentage of the documents we were receiving, but we received a number of them and when we received the requests, the information about them in terms of where they came from, the doctor who would have signed and the stamp used was extremely concerning.
This has led to tighter controls on who can submit certificates to the Migrant Health Unit. Now there are only two hospitals in Haiti approved for official documents in the Turks and Caicos Islands on the direct recommendation of the Haitian Consulate.
Saunders said the interim measures were not just intended to reduce the high rate of fraud, but to ease the health experience for migrants. Additionally, the unit will only accept medical applications from locally licensed healthcare providers and pre-approved employers in the home country.
Unauthorized persons will no longer be permitted to submit applications on behalf of persons wishing to live or work in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Employers must now also be pre-approved by the ministry.
These new layers of controls are, however, of concern to the public who have experienced extreme wait times. As TCIG attempts to reduce corruption, it continues to create more work for its employees and reduces the means by which critical national documents can be processed in a timely manner.
Fortunately, work permit holders will no longer have to apply for a certificate each year; their health certificate will now have the same expiry date as their work permit.
The government said it still had issues with data migration and was working with the digitization unit to resolve them. Myers promised that once the process is complete, the government would be able to provide statistics and other relevant information regarding the health of migrants.
You can find the full list of updated interim protocols on the Department of Health’s Health Facebook page.