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Ebola, ChikV top priority for region

Caribbean Community

The Caribbean Public Health Agency has declared Chikungunya control and preparedness for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) top public health priorities for attention as they challenge regional health services on how to manage their spread.

Noting the first diagnosis of EVD in Dallas, Texas, CARPHA executive director Dr James Hospedales, in a statement yesterday, said, “this new development demonstrates the potential for the possible introduction of EVD into any country” highlighting the need for preparedness. And while CARPHA continues to provide testing for the Chikungunya virus (ChikV), Hospedales said, “those being tested and reported represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’.” 

CARPHA was aware, he said, “that many individuals are self-treating and not presenting to health care facilities. They are therefore not included in the numbers presented by CARPHA and ministries of health in the region.” He expects the number of people infected with ChikV will continue to increase, mainly because populations were encountering the virus for the first time and do not have any immunity. The increase, he said, is providing a challenge to health services. 

“Everyone must take responsibility for their health by avoiding mosquito bites, especially when febrile, and preventing mosquitoes breeding, in and around the environment,” he said. On the issue of EVD being introduced to the region, Hospedales said, the Dallas case was diagnosed at one of the gateways to the Caribbean. “We need to be alert and prepared as a threat to regional health security may emerge from any country,” he said. 

Caricom Preparedness

“There is no room for complacency, and we at CARPHA continue to work with all our member states, and our partners to bolster preparedness for Ebola, to protect the health of the people and implement measures to minimise risk including those linked to the revised International Health Regulations (2005),” he said. 

The measures include appropriate communication messages being disseminated to the general public, travellers, health care workers and education institutions; and strengthening systems at ports-of-entry to handle and advise travellers from countries where the EVD is in circulation.

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CMLF News Issue #7
27th January 2016