We are on top of the dengue situation in SVG – MOH
The Ministry of Health says they are on top the dengue situation here and have implemented several initiatives as they intensify the fight against the virus.
Among the initiatives is the decision to increase the number of hospital beds and to employ 10 additional doctors and six nurses so that adequate care can be provided the increased number of persons turning up at the nation’s health facilities.
It was also announced on Tuesday at a press conference at Cabinet Room that the government will spend $29,000 on public education and $210,000 on vector control.
Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Speaking during the press briefing, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Simone Keizer-Beache said there is a comprehensive public health response to deal with the dengue fever outbreak.
She said that as at last Monday, the country had recorded 374 laboratory confirmed cases of the virus but in reality, there are more cases as that number does not take into account those persons who had the virus but were not tested.
She said August produced 50 cases that were diagnosed after persons went to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) and as at September 20, there were 167 persons seeking care for dengue, 59 of whom had been admitted to hospital, 37 being children.
There have also been two deaths, one of which is a middle aged female and the other a nine-year-old boy. Both are from the Calliaqua district.
The CMO said in terms of response to the outbreak, back in June/July, the Ministry issued releases noting increases in the number of dengue cases and they started putting out information on how to reduce exposure.
She said they are addressing source reduction and stepped up their response guided by the dengue response plan.
“We need additional staff because we have to do what we call surge capacity, because as I mentioned, we have 267 persons turning up at the emergency room just for dengue…this does not take into account the regular persons that visit,” Keizer-Beache said.
She said additional medical staff will be hired because a very important part of dengue management for moderate cases is early intervention.
“…That’s how you are going to protect and save lives. We have to increase our capacity to provide that care. So besides doctors and nurses, we are also going to extend services at Kingstown District Clinic to 7 pm and we have mentioned that we will utilize the Argyle Isolation Facility and we are also increasing beds at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to house additional cases,” the CMO said.
The Ministry has also reached out to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for additional support in health promotion, vector control and specialists services.
“…We have had increased numbers of pediatric cases. Our under-15 numbers are around 51 per cent and we are having challenges in terms of the management of these cases where we have renal impairment in children, so we have asked PAHO to help us with a pediatric nephrologists and we might also get other support as needs be,” Keizer-Beache explained.
Tuesday’s press conference was chaired by chief health promotion officer Patsy Wyllie and included presentations from infectious disease specialist Dr Jose Davy, pediatrician Dr Mishka Duncan-Adams, chief laboratory technologist Elliot Samuel, supervisor in the vector control unit Shamanti Laban and chief environmental health officer Neri James.