- The National Family Planning Board (NFPB) is to step up its public education in guiding persons as to how they can delay pregnancy and on contraceptive options.
- In the meantime, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse, informed that only one in every four persons who are infected become ill.
- He urged all media entities and persons within the music industry, among other groups, to partner with the Government to inform and educate the public about the prevention of ZIKV.
The National Family Planning Board (NFPB) is to step up its public education in guiding persons as to how they can delay pregnancy and on contraceptive options.
This is crucial, given the Government’s decision to advise women to delay becoming pregnant for the next six to 12 months.
Speaking at a Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, in Kingston, on January 20, Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley, urged women who are already pregnant “to take extra precaution to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes, given the possible link between the Zika virus (ZikV) infection and microcephaly,” he said.
Mr. Dalley said the decision was taken to advise women to delay pregnancy as there is increasing information which suggests a link of Zika virus infection to microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where an infant has an abnormally small head, which is associated with underdevelopment of the brain.
“At present, the exact time during pregnancy when this may occur is not confirmed. However, microcephaly has been observed in more cases following infection of pregnant women during the first months of pregnancy,” he noted.
The Minister said that babies who develop microcephaly in the womb may not live to full term, may be born prematurely, may be still born or may survive, but with lifelong disability.
Mr. Dalley said pregnant women need to be particularly vigilant as they are among the high risk groups and are likely to experience severe symptoms if they contract the Zika virus.
In the meantime, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse, informed that only one in every four persons who are infected become ill.
“The majority of persons who are infected with the virus, do not even know that they have it because they develop no signs or symptoms. However, they are still able to pass it on if an Aedes aegypti mosquito bites them and then they go on to become infected,” she said.
In the meantime, the Minister informed that “within the coming week” public broadcast messages will be made by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller; Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Holness; Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen; and the Head of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, William Mahfood, among others.
Mr. Dalley used the opportunity to call on corporate companies to partner with the Ministry to minimise the impact of the Zika virus.
He lauded Caribbean Cement Company Limited for their partnership with the Ministry to deploy 100 vector control workers in communities closest to the company’s plant in Rockfort, East Kingston.
“The Ministry of Health cannot do it alone, so we are calling on communities, churches, schools, businesses and householders to band together to help to rid their communities of the breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito and also the adult mosquitoes,” he said.
The Minister said it is the task of every citizen to get rid of mosquitoes in their surroundings.
He urged all media entities and persons within the music industry, among other groups, to partner with the Government to inform and educate the public about the prevention of ZIKV.
Some of the prevention methods include: look for anything in which water can settle and either cover it, keep the area dry, clean it regularly, fill it with soil or sand, punch holes in it, and recycle or properly dispose of it; and do not dump garbage in drains and gullies.
Persons should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellents containing DEET, IR3535 or Icardidin, mosquito nets, mosquito destroyers or putting screens on windows and doors.
They should also make sure that their families, especially children and the elderly, wear protective clothing, such as socks, long-sleeved shirts or blouses and long pants and skirts, where possible.
Symptoms of ZikV include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe illness requiring hospitalisation is uncommon.
Nineteen countries in the Americas have confirmed the outbreak of ZikV. These are Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Suriname and Venezuela.