The country’s stockpile of antiviral for the treatment of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus has been bolstered with the donation of more than $1 million worth of drugs by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
The Ministry of Health received 36 cartons holding 35,000 treatment courses for up to 10 days of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) antiviral medicine on Tuesday (June 2) from PAHO at the Ministry’s office, King Street, Kingston.
Minister of Health, Rudyard Spencer, expressed gratitude to PAHO, saying that the donation would augment the country’s current stock of the Tamiflu drug, as the Government had previously procured a supply of the antiviral medicines.
“I can’t tell you, but you can imagine how far this will go in helping Jamaica to arrest the H1N1 virus and, at least, be in a position to help our people in giving them medicine,” he said.
World Health Organisation (WHO)/PAHO Representative for Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Bermuda, Dr. Ernest Pate, said the antiviral medicine was taken from WHO stockpile to be donated to member states where the virus is detected.
“We are partnering with the Ministry of Health in ensuring that there is that adequacy of supply, nationally, to ensure that they can treat whatever number of cases identified,” Dr. Pate said.
Samples of some 35,000 boxes of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) Influenza A antiviral medicine, which were donated to the Government by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), on June 2, at the Ministry of Health, on King Street, in downtown Kingston.
He also commended the Ministry’s surveillance and monitoring systems, which had been on high alert prior to the confirmation of the two cases in the island.
The Ministry in collaboration with WHO/PAHO has conducted training and simulation exercises to detect and treat any onset of the virus. The two cases of Influenza A (H1N1) virus were confirmed in Jamaica last Friday (May 29). Both persons recently travelled from New York in the United States.
“Once the cases had been identified they (the Ministry) have been working tirelessly, and this preparation started long before they identified any cases,” Dr. Pate said.
Minister Spencer sought to relieve fears of the confirmation of the virus in the island, reiterating that the Ministry was fully equipped and prepared to treat and detect Influenza A (H1N1), locally.
“You are in good hands,” Mr. Spencer said.
The Tamiflu antiviral medicine is currently one of the most effective drugs being used to treat Influenza A (H1N1). The medication may be prescribed to adults and children. Additionally, these particular boxes of Tamiflu drugs have an expiration date of April 2011.
The Tamiflu donation supply will be given to the Health Corporation Limited, which will handle the dissemination and storage of the antiviral medicine.
Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry, Dr. Grace Allen-Young, also explained that the batch of Tamiflu drug will only be made available upon request, and should only be taken if diagnosed with the virus.