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Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has made an urgent appeal to all persons who are experiencing symptoms of malaria, as well as those who have been tested for the disease to visit their nearest health facility or face the consequences of being named publicly.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a meeting of the National Emergency Operations Centre held at the Ministry of Health, today (Dec. 16), where she gave the charge for the Ministry to take drastic steps to find all infected persons.
This decision comes against the backdrop of difficulties being encountered in locating possible carriers of the disease, as well as reports that some individuals are displaying hostility toward health workers in the field.
“It is important that you understand that we are concerned about you, about the children and everyone living in the affected communities, as well as the health status of the entire nation,” the Prime Minister said.
Mrs. Simpson Miller also called on Jamaicans everywhere to be vigilant and to take the necessary precautions to prevent further spread of the disease. “It is extremely important that the nation takes this outbreak seriously,” she added. “Jamaica has always been proud of its health status, which is comparable to that of developed countries. We have eradicated several communicable diseases. We have not experienced an outbreak of malaria in over forty years,” said the Prime Minister. She also appealed to all persons who have symptoms of malaria such as fever, chills, headaches, muscle pains and vomiting to visit their doctor or the nearest health facility.
Prime Minister Simpson Miller commended all categories of health workers for the work that they have done so far and commended regional and international partners such as the Pan-American Health Organisation, theCentres for Disease Control in Atlanta and the Caribbean Epidemiological Research Centre (CAREC). She also thanked personnel from Guyana who are working at the National Public Health Laboratory. Mrs. Simpson Miller was updated by the health team led by the Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester.
Ninety-one persons have been confirmed with the disease, with seventy-six of them in the age group 10 to 59 years. The Acting Chief Medical Officer assured the Prime Minister that there was adequate supply of drugs in the island to treat infected persons.
The strategies being utilised by the health team include early case detection; prompt treatment; vector control; public education and inter-sectoral collaboration.
In addition to Dr. Campbell-Forrester, Minister of Health, Horace Dalley; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Grace Allen-Young, as well as the Ministry’s Director of Emergency Operations, Dr. Marion Bullock-DuCasse, were at the meeting at the National Emergency Operations Centre.