Cholera prevention activities continue


The Ministry of Health continues to intensify all priority activities for cholera preparedness, prevention and response to ensure that the country remains cholera-free in light of the recent outbreak in neighbouring Haiti.
Director of Emergency Services, Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse, told journalists at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday (November 3) that the Ministry will remain persistent in implementing all its preparedness programmes and will take no chances.
“The Ministry of Health’s Emergency Operations Centre remains activated to provide strategic management, direction and coordination of our cholera preparedness, prevention and response activities,” she said.
Dr. Bullock DuCasse advised that since the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued its confirmation of cholera cases in the French-speaking nation on October 21, the Jamaican government has implemented a number of precautionary measures.
These, she said, included efforts to ensure that there is prompt and adequate prevention and control programme to stem the impact of any outbreak.
The Emergency Services Director said meetings have been convened at the national level, while members of the Ministry’s senior teams have been briefed. “The inter-sectoral collaboration was heightened with a meeting of the central health committee, where critical areas looking at public and international health strategies were addressed, as well as how we will ensure that there are no cholera transmissions here,” she said.
Health care staff are being trained, with 400 personnel island wide already sensitised; while a public awareness campaign has also been launched, with the airing of cholera specific messages.
“The focus is really on water and food safety, hygiene and ensuring that there is good environmental sanitation,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse noted.
She informed that private water suppliers, ministries and agencies, including the National Water Commission (NWC), have been mandated to ensure that their water supply and waste water systems meet the required standards island wide.
In addition, she said, “we have ensured that our 71 sentinel sites, which are health facilities, will continue to collect data so we can do early detection. All our hospitals collect information on cases of gastroenteritis and report these to the Ministry of Health on a weekly basis as we assess trends.”
Dr. Bullock DuCasse also informed that persons arriving directly from Haiti are interviewed and assessed by MOH quarantine teams at the airports to determine if they have had any exposure to the disease, as well as to advise them on the signs and symptoms and how to contact the Ministry if necessary.
Both the National Public Health Laboratory and Microbiology Laboratory at the University of the West Indies have the capability to detect and diagnose cases of cholera. Jamaica has also received additional supplies from the reference laboratory, the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) in Trinidad.
Some 4,764 cases and 337 deaths have been reported by the Ministry of Public Health and Population in Haiti as of October 31, 2010.

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