Partnerships must be maintained to prevent major Zika outbreak — Health minister

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, says international partnerships are needed and must be maintained to prevent a major outbreak of the Zika virus in Jamaica.

Speaking at a national consultation, titled, 'Strengthening Health Services in the Context of Zika in Jamaica', held today at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew, Tufton said it is cross-border collaboration that will help Jamaica to better fight the disease.

“The more open we are as a society, the more persons travel, the more persons trade, is the more we are all susceptible, and the more it justifies the need for working together as partners in all our collective interests,” Tufton said.

The consultation was funded through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project.

Tufton said the partnership with USAID represents one of the international relationships he hopes to see continue.

“This partnership was absolutely critical in order to achieve the objective of collaboration, because the reality is, we're vulnerable, our friends up north are vulnerable and, indeed, the world is vulnerable,” he said.

Tufton noted that between 2016 and 2018 there were over 9,000 Zika cases in Jamaica, 600 Zika in pregnancy cases and over 100 congenital Zika syndrome cases.

The consultation was geared towards better sensitising medical practitioners and other stakeholders in Jamaica about mosquitoes and the Zika virus, while creating partnerships that will assist with the fight against the communicable disease.

The objectives of the meeting included informing Jamaica's medical community about evolving evidence on the long-term impact of the Zika virus; updating the Ministry of Health's clinical management protocols, job aids and guidelines to strengthen health services in the context of Zika in Jamaica; focusing on gender inequalities that affect health outcomes and approaches to gender integration; and creating a joint Ministry of Health and ASSIST way forward to enhance scale-up and strengthening the context of Zika in Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Country Representative, USAID Jamaica, Jason Fraser, stressed that it is important to maintain partnerships in the fight against Zika.

“Containing Zika and other communicable diseases is a high priority of the United States Government. All of us know that building sustainable disease-prevention and mitigation systems requires collaboration throughout the hemisphere, and USAID is proud to partner with the Ministry of Health and contribute to the ongoing work and research in this field,” Fraser said.

—JIS


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