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Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley, said yesterday (Dec. 5) that the Ministry has put an emergency action plan in place to effectively prevent the spread of malaria in Jamaica.
Mr. Dalley, who was updating members of the House of Representatives on initiatives to contain the health situation, informed that a multi-disciplinary team comprising emergency health staff, consultants, among other professionals, would be executing the plan.
The aim of the Ministry’s strategy, he said, was to maintain Jamaica’s non-endemic status, to prevent spread among locals as well as to promptly identify and treat cases of infection.
He said that since Jamaica had been malaria free since 1965, there were a vast number of health care professionals, who had never diagnosed a case in their professional lifetime. In this regard, Mr. Dalley said case definition, diagnostic criteria and patient management protocol would be redeveloped by the Ministry and distributed to the relevant personnel.
In addition, he told the House, epidemiological investigations and house-to-house fever surveillance were underway “within a radius of one kilometer from the residence of all cases.”
Minister Dalley informed that so far, “1,492 households have been visited and 905 people interviewed outside of households. The total number of fever cases identified in this amount to 305. Of this.242 samples of blood have been taken for smear testing.”
Further to the action plan, Minister Dalley indicated that the vector control strategy was being strengthened with interventions such as fogging of adult mosquitoes as well as the destruction of all potential breeding sites.
In the meantime, he indicated that health centres have been ordered to stay open everyday including on weekends until further notice, adding that additional quantities of laboratory supplies and drugs have been acquired to support the drive to control the malaria parasite.
“We are liaising with relevant international agencies such as the Pan American Health Organization.they have dispatched one entomologist and an epidemiologist to Jamaica.to help us deal with this situation,” he informed.
Meanwhile Mr. Dalley said there needed to be vigilance as it related to the cleaning of gullies, solid waste management, coast guard and immigration coordination.
Cabinet on Monday approved $30.2 million to support the activities of the Ministry of Health in curtailing an outbreak of the disease.