Saint Lucia’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has disclosed that inadequate data and analysis were hindering regional policymakers in their response to illegal gun trafficking and violence.
Dr. Sharon Belmar-George explained that the public health approach to crime and violence focuses on prevention and using data.
“Policymakers in the region currently lack adequate information and analysis necessary to design a whole-of-society approach to preventing and reducing firearm trafficking and violence,” Belmar-George asserted.
Earlier this week, she spoke during a Saint Lucia Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) awards ceremony.
Her theme was ‘Crime As A Public Health Issue.’
The CMO pointed out that the critical gap related to the mechanics and impact of illicit arms flows at the community level, as well as how illegal markets impact violence, public health, and society.
Belmar-George explained that while criminology, public health, violence prevention, and arms control researchers have begun collecting relevant data, important gaps remain.
In this regard, the CMO noted the existence of minimal data on non-fatal firearm injuries.
“That conceals the true extent of violence and the root causes and impacts,” Belmar-George told her audience.
She also observed that information regarding the cost of treating firearm injuries was not readily available.
According to the CMO, the situation creates challenges for a public health assessment and delivering appropriate care to victims.
In addition, Belmar-George declared that there’s only a partial understanding of the broader impacts of gun violence on families, the community, and society.
“Within the region, the major gap of insufficient data and the lack of data sharing even among major agencies to properly define the problem if we are to look for early interventions to be able to manage,” she stated.
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