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Blood inventory improves as Gov't makes progress in dengue fight

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, this afternoon gave the assurance that his ministry is making progress and will continue to take the appropriate actions necessary to contain the dengue virus.

Tufton told the House of Representatives that the ministry has enhanced its clinical management efforts.

He disclosed that the blood inventory at the National Blood Transfusion Services has improved as at January 3 and laboratory capacity enhanced to expedite testing for dengue, through support from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

He said the ministry is finalising framework agreements with four private laboratories to enhance testing capacity.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that 123 dengue case reports were received for December, surpassing the outbreak threshold of 96 cases.

It was the first month for 2018 in which the number of cases had exceeded the outbreak threshold. Up to January 3, some 830 cases were classified as suspected, presumed or confirmed. There have been 23 confirmed cases of dengue for the period.

Tufton told the Lower House that already, clinical staff have been resensitised regarding the management of dengue; emergency departments at hospital have been bolstered by increased clinical and administrative staff; and sensitisation of all doctors, private and public, has been conducted.

“The ministry is also increasing available hospital beds by providing the support to open unused wards at St Joseph's and National Chest hospitals, and we now have extended opening hours at various health centres in anticipation of increased demand on the system,” he said.

He said that an extended public education campaign – launched in May with the observation of Mosquito Awareness Week – has also commenced and will continue in the coming weeks.

In addition, public service announcements regarding mosquito breeding sites, symptoms of dengue and personal protection tips, which have aired since August last year, continue to be shared and are being ramped up in the media, inclusive of social media.

“Dengue information flyers and brochures continue to be procured, with close to 100,000 already distributed to homes, health centres and hospitals across the island. This all adds to the public education programme, and this has been enhanced since the start of this year,” Dr. Tufton said.

He noted, further, that the ministry is collaborating with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development in terms of the removal of domestic waste.

“We had a meeting with the minister of finance and the public service, with representatives from the National Solid Waste Management Authority, as part of the coordinated approach to deal with breeding sites,” he said.

Also, 'Dear Doctor' and 'Dear Parent' letters have been distributed to sensitise physicians and parents regarding dengue.

Jamaicans are encouraged to visit their doctors if they experience symptoms and to follow the prescribed course of treatment.

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