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Ministry of Health holds meeting on SVG’s Ebola preparedness

Ministry of Health holds meeting on SVG’s Ebola preparedness


The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment this week held a meeting to update stakeholders on the Ministry’s preparedness in response to the Ebola situation that is currently afflicting several West African countries.

On Tuesday, August 5, 30 stakeholders {{more}}were brought up to speed on what is happening globally, the present risk level of the disease being transported to St Vincent and the Grenadines and the wider Caribbean, and an outline of the Ministry’s plan of action.

This plan of action includes: an immediate risk assessment; enhanced public health surveillance; increased public awareness; management of suspected cases; safe management of corpses; resource mobilisation; psycho-social support; monitoring and evaluation; and reporting.

Stakeholders who attended the meeting comprised representatives from all local Schools of Medicine, the Passports and Immigration Department, the Ministry of National Security, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Monday, August 4, Dr Rosmond Adams, chair of the National Surveillance Committee, emphasised that while it is not impossible for the disease to reach the region, the lack of direct flights between West Africa and the Caribbean minimises that probability.

“Most [infected] people would have to go through other transit points,” explained Dr Adams. “These countries would have their surveillance systems already to detect these people.

“It’s not to say we don’t have surveillance here… but you’re going through a filtering system of public health surveillance before you come here.”

On Wednesday, August 6, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) issued a statement in regard to the spread of the deadly virus.

Executive director of CARPHA Dr C James Hospedales said: “There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in the Caribbean, and overall the risk of becoming infected… in this region remains low.”

The statement also acknowledged that while infected persons may travel to the Caribbean from the affected areas, evidence (based on its assessment) shows that the “risk of secondary transmission to direct close contacts” is considered low.

“The risk from casual contact, such as shaking hands or sitting next to someone who is not displaying symptoms is also likely to be very low,” stated Dr Hospedales.

The latest statistics released by the World Health Organisation indicate that 108 new cases of Ebola have been recorded between August 2 and 4, and that the death toll as at August 4 was 932.

Additionally, in Nigeria, up to press time, a second person had died from the disease and five persons were confirmed as being Ebola sufferers.(JSV)