JIS News

Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, has stressed that the Ministry was working feverishly to control and prevent any further outbreak of malaria in the island.
Speaking at a press briefing today (December 20), at the Ministry’s offices in downtown Kingston, Dr. Campbell-Forrester outlined that among the strategies the Ministry was implementing to control the disease were: house to house surveys in the affected areas; prompt treatment of suspected cases; vector control; public education and inter-sectoral collaboration.
She disclosed that some 705 blood samples had been sent to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta to be tested for the disease, and that the government laboratory had been informed that there were 15 positive smears for malaria, from the first 371 smears that were sent.
“We expect later today to start receiving the results from the remaining 334 smears that left the island on Saturday for the CDC. We continue to enhance the capacity of the national public health lab to ensure that we can have a faster turn around time for the reading of the smears,” the CMO said.
She pointed out that to date, the government laboratory had received 4,149 smears. “We have 1,177 smears to be read as of yesterday. We have read 2,972 smears,” Dr. Campbell-Forrester said.
The CMO noted that the daily inflows of blood samples have been reduced from 350 to approximately 200 per day, in the last few days. “Our positivity reading is now below five per cent,” she said.
As part of the efforts to enhance the capacity of the government laboratory, two additional readers from Cuba are expected to arrive in the island shortly.
Dr. Campbell-Forrester noted that several breeding sites have been found in St. Catherine and Clarendon and the Ministry was working to destroy them. “We have some 55 workers in the field, we are working to destroy all breeding sites. We are moving systematically in the Corporate Area and in St. Catherine and we have heightened vector control activities in other parishes,” she said.
Meanwhile, Chief of Epidemiology and AIDS at the Ministry, Dr. Peter Figueroa has said that to date, there have been 128 confirmed cases of malaria and all the cases have been treated.
“We have found that persons with confirmed malaria are responding well to the medication, which is very encouraging and important, because it suggests that the falciparum malaria that we are seeing is sensitive to chloroquine. In many parts of the world the falciparum malaria is not sensitive to chloroquine,” he informed.
Dr. Figueroa further noted that the Ministry was also treating persons with suspected malaria in the affected areas of Tivoli, Denham Town, Trench Town, Rose Town and Delacree Park.
He urged persons who were experiencing any signs and symptoms of malaria to get treatment. “Our health facilities islandwide are on alert in terms of persons presenting with fever or one or more symptoms consistent with malaria, and blood samples are being taken to the lab, so that we maintain vigilance with respect to identifying any cases which may occur,” he said.

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