28 July 2021
Islanders are being urged to provide feedback on the development of a new Public Health Law which will replace the current law, Loi (1934) sur la Santé Publique. The first of two stages of the consultation will close this Friday, 30 July. The first stage of the consultation, which began on 15 June, is a high-level overview of key policy issues still under consideration and is mainly concerned with the overall scope of the new law.
The second stage of the consultation is due to begin later this year and will provide detailed proposals for all aspects of the law, including proposals on the management of public health risks.
A key objective of the law is to ensure that the Government effectively responds and manages a wide range of risks that may threaten the public’s health. This includes preventing long-term chronic illnesses, reducing health inequalities in the population, as well as responding to day-to-day risks such as an outbreak of measles, or public health emergencies such as a global pandemic.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: “Good health is something we all value and while we may be living longer, we want to ensure that as many of those years as possible are spent in good health. Some of the biggest challenges we now face to our health are long-term preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, which are often a result of factors outside of healthcare. That is why the consultation is seeking Islanders’ views on whether the new Public Health Law should play a role in helping to address these issues, alongside the more traditional role of Public Health legislation in managing infectious diseases.
“Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic exposed significant gaps in our legislative powers for responding to major public health risks. This highlighted the need for an appropriate legal framework to be developed that would better enable the Government to respond to public health emergencies.
“The law is important for providing clarity on what action can be taken, in what circumstances, and by whom. Ensuring robust and appropriate safeguards are in place for when such action is taken is central to our approach in improving our ability to manage public health risks.
“The consultation process intends to ensure that we get the right balance between legal powers and civil liberties. As the law is so complex, we have adopted a two-stage approach to the consultation.
“A few concerns have been raised during the consultation regarding the law’s role in relation to vaccination. The detailed policy intention about such matters is still under development, however, while the law may be used to promote vaccination, we are absolutely clear that the law will not be used as a vehicle to empower the State to physically administer vaccinations without people’s consent.
“I would like to thank those Islanders who have already provided feedback to the first stage of the consultation. Those Islanders who have not yet taken part in the consultation, should do so before Friday if they would like to have their say, as this is a law that will impact and benefit the whole Island.”