NDPRAC Press Statement

The National Disaster Preparedness and Response Advisory Committee (NDPRAC) met on 2nd January 2009 to review the level of volcanic activity since its last meeting on 22 December 2008 and, in particular, the implications for Zone B which includes Isles Bay, Waterworks, parts of Old Towne and Lower Happy Hill.

The MVO has observed a significant change in the pattern of activity. A regular cycle of strong volcanic pulses has become established resulting in larger and more energetic extrusion of magma. The number of pyroclastic flows on the north and North West side of the mountain has increased and is filling Tyre’s Ghaut. This has enabled flows to jump over the wall of the ghaut and reduces the distance to the Belham River Valley. The volume of extrusion has also increased. Lava accumulated around the dome is contributing to the increasing size of pyroclastic flows.

A second consequence of the higher energy levels is an increased possibility of the pre-existing dome being destabilized. Although the bulk of a dome collapse would fall into the Tar River Valley, the risk of a significant collapse into the Belham River had been increased by the changed focus and pattern of the eruption.

Taken together, the Director of the MVO (who had consulted with colleagues overseas) concluded that the MVO was no longer in a position to issue any practically useful warning during the hours of darkness or bad weather.

Having considered the Director’s report and studied recent photographic and video material NDPRAC decided to further restrict entry to Zone B to daytime only. The Governor will issue a proclamation on 2 January which will take effect from 18.00 that day. Zone B will be open from 06.30 to 17.30 daily, except on Wednesdays when it will remain closed.

Residents of Zone A who feel uncomfortable residing there overnight should consider making alternative arrangements with friends and families.

NDPRAC regrets the disruption this will cause to residents of Zone B and will continue to review levels of volcanic activity on a regular basis.

Affected residents and members of the public are invited to an open meeting to explain the decision at Salem Nursery School at 9 am on Saturday 3 January 2009..

GoM Launches Re-branded Websites

The Government of Montserrat (GoM) has formally launched its rebranded image via an updated ‘family of websites’ attached to a new look Home Page, offering comprehensive sets of information and application forms ranging from taxation, health services, auditing, administration and work permits.

As part of the initiative to improve service delivery and enhance the image of Montserrat and the Montserrat public service, seven (7) web portals were launched on Friday, November 28 at an event which attracted His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Peter Waterworth, Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments from across the public service.

It is anticipated that the new websites will improve the quantity, and accessibility of information about the operations of the GoM and the Montserrat Public Service. The websites are designed with the goal of providing a comprehensive electronic gateway for the world to Montserrat and to facilitate access to a variety of government departments. They are also meant to signal to the rest of the world that the Public Service is serious about the country’s development and that it is ready to contribute to an enhanced quality of life and the economic well being of Montserrat.

Recognising that we live in an information age and the importance of keeping our citizens and residents at home and abroad as well as our potential visitors and investors supplied with current information both the Minister of Health Education and Community Services, the Honourable Roselyn Cassell-Sealy and the Chief Establishment Officer (CEO), Mrs. Sarita Francis used the occasion to highlight the importance of electronic and internet based communications to engage the Montserrat Diaspora and to provide customer friendly services and adopt a “customer-centric” approaches to the way it works and commended the websites as a good step in the right direction.

The Montserrat family of websites emerged after extensive consultations with the departments and ministries in the initial pilot project, the Government Information Systems – (the hosting agent for the sites) as well as external consultants. The Office of the CEO and PSRU is committed to continuing the coordination of the website development for all service Ministries and Departments ensuring a full Government of Montserrat online presence.

The websites designs were undertaken by MnK Designs, a locally based web design business..

World AIDS Day in Montserrat

World AIDS Awareness Day was on Monday 01 December with several activities locally to mark the Day. The highlight of the Day was the launch of the National HIV/AIDS/STI Multisectoral Team, which was held at the Administration Conference Room at Government Headquarters. This event was hosted by the HE the Governor, who also hosted a reception at Government House in the evening.

The Team was launched by the Hon Minister of Health Roslyn Cassell Sealy. Other speakers included Team Chair Rev Dr. Joan Meade, HE Governor Mr. Peter Waterworth, Permanent Secretary Beverley Mendes and acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Gopal.

The Team is broken into several committees and subcommittees. The overall Chairperson is Rev Dr Joan Meade who is also Chair of the Management Team. Other committees include the Advisory Committee, the Technical Team, the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Committee, the Legal and Human Rights Committee, and the Civil Society Committee.

HIV/AIDS/STI Coordinator Anjella Skerritt explained that there is a pressing need for policies on HIV/AIDS, in the health, education and workplace sectors. The first task for the respective Committees will be to work towards formulating these policies, with the final result being a Workplace Policy, an Education Policy and a Health Policy.

Meantime the Red Cross HIV/STI Peer Educators organized a walk from Brades Pentecostal Church to Carrs Bay, accompanied by the Defence Force band. Leaflets and gifts and gifts were distributed along the route and ended with refreshments and music at Carr’s Bay. Before the march commenced, there were short speeches by the Hon Minister of Health Roslyn Cassell Sealy, HIV/AIDS Coordinator Anjella Skerritt, Red Cross President Beverley West Joseph, and Police Officer Stanford Kelly of the DARE Programme.

There were two editions of Talking Health Radio programme. The first one, leading up to the Day, featured panelists Keith Dyett and Viona Alexander, both of whom attended the workshop on HIV Stigma and Discrimination; also Benjamin Rasool, Condom Sales Promotion Agent of the “Got it Get it” condom promotion programme, as well as Anjella Skerritt. The second programme was a follow-up to the Day, and featured four Adolescent Red Cross Peer Educators, along with their Coordinator Ann Thomas.

On ZJB Radio songs about HIV/AIDS were played, while a quiz on HIV/AIDS continued throughout the day. The Red Cross Peer Educators also recorded some radio promo’s which will be aired throughout December, and the group also plans to hold a Hat Show, which will feature AIDS education messages. The Montserrat Christian Council hosted an ecumenical service at Cavalla Hill Methodist church on the 30 November which ended with an alter call for persons to commit to do their part in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Messages for HIV/STI Prevention and Reduction of HIV Stigma and Discrimination will continue through to January 2009, including participation in the annual festival activities..