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  • The Ministry of Health is reporting that there has been no outbreak of water borne illnesses, particularly gastroenteritis, for this year up to the month of August.
  • Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marion Bullock-DuCasse, also noted that there has been a significant reduction in the number of reported cases of gastroenteritis in health centres and hospitals over the last five years.
  • She pointed out that the sentinel sites across the island routinely collect information on gastroenteritis, adding that the Ministry’s surveillance system has been strengthened.

The Ministry of Health is reporting that there has been no outbreak of water borne illnesses, particularly gastroenteritis, for this year up to the month of August.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marion Bullock-DuCasse, also noted that there has been a significant reduction in the number of reported cases of gastroenteritis in health centres and hospitals over the last five years.

She pointed out that the sentinel sites across the island routinely collect information on gastroenteritis, adding that the Ministry’s surveillance system has been strengthened.

“So, this year the measures seem to be working in terms of the public education and public compliance,” Dr. Bullock-DuCasse said.

The Chief Medical Officer was speaking to journalists at a press briefing, held at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on September 2.

Meanwhile, she said the Ministry continues to engage the public on the ways to ensure that water consumed is safe, even as the country battles harsh drought conditions, and that the Public Health Departments continue to monitor water quality.

“There is also ongoing dialogue with the National Water Commission (NWC) and the Parish Councils, which supply most of the water in the island, to ensure appropriate testing and monitoring of the water quality. Where there are gaps, we ensure that these are closed and that those agencies are carrying out the respective work,” she said.

In addition, the Ministry has mounted a campaign aimed at vector control.

Dr. Bullock-DuCasse further noted that local public health facilities are prepared to deal adequately with the ongoing drought conditions that have resulted in water shortage in some sections of the island.

“Our responsibility includes ensuring the preparation of our own facilities and staff for a continuous water supply through increased water storage and through priority allocations from the NWC for the delivery of water. Instructions were given to all regional health authorities by the Ministry of Health that in the event of any disruption in those supplies, we could also purchase water,” she added.

The Chief Medical Officer said the Ministry of Health works within the framework of the National Disaster Mechanism, and that there is a National Drought Management Plan, which sets out the role of all ministries, departments and agencies.