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JIS News

The country’s stockpile of antiviral drugs for the treatment of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus has been bolstered with the donation of more than $1 million worth of medication from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
World Health Organisation (WHO)/PAHO Representative for Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Bermuda, Dr. Ernest Pate, this morning (June 2) handed over approximately 3,500 boxes of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to Minister of Health, Rudyard Spencer, at the Ministry’s King Street office, downtown Kingston.
Minister Spencer expressed gratitude to PAHO, saying that the donation would augment the country’s current stock of the Tamiflu drug. “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 stated.
Dr. Pate said the antiviral medicine was taken from WHO stockpile, which is reserved for member states where the virus has been 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 that is identified,” he said.
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 H1N1 virus were confirmed in Jamaica last Friday (May 29). The two affected persons had recently travelled from New York in the United States.
“Once the cases had been identified they (Ministry) have been working tirelessly, and this preparation started long before they identified any cases,” Dr. Pate pointed out.
Minister Spencer in the meantime, affirmed that the Ministry was fully equipped and prepared to treat and detect Influenza A (H1N1) locally. “You are in good hands,” he stated.
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, which each contain 10 capsules, have an expiration date of April 2011. The Tamiflu donation 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, further explained that the batch of Tamiflu drug will only be made available upon request and should only be taken if diagnosed with the virus.