Boost for Ja's Ebola preparedness

Boost for Ja's Ebola preparedness

Supreme Ventures donates thermal-sensing unit for cruise ship pier

BY ANIKA RICHARDSON Observer staff reporter

Monday, October 27, 2014

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A thermal-sensing unit is among equipment being donated to the Ministry of Health by Supreme Ventures Limited, to bolster the island's Ebola preparedness and response activities.

The unit will be installed at Falmouth cruise ship complex in Trelawny. Outside of its installation, Supreme Ventures will also facilitate the training necessary to operate the equipment.

Speaking at a ceremony at Jamaica House in Kingston, yesterday, to hand over the cheque for the equipment and protective gear being donated, Supreme Ventures President and Chief Executive Officer Brian George said his company is pleased to play its part in the Ebola awareness programme.

"Clearly, we understood that we cannot only focus on the airports, but the cruise ship ports (as well)," George said. "It is worthy of note that, while Ebola is the clear and present danger, we cannot overlook the reality of SARS, Avian flu, and swine flu, all of which are also capable of being detected by the thermal sensing unit being donated."

He also said the recent denial of a cruise ship to dock in Belize and Mexico underscores Jamaica's need to be prepared and to protect our tourism product, whether at air or sea ports.

Supreme Ventures is also donating 10 Pan American Health Organisation-recommended Ebola kits, which contain operating theatre gowns, shoes, bags for biohazardous materials, and disposable needles. Two World Health Organisation-recommended Type B complimentary kits containing heavy duty surgical aprons, body bags, safety goggles, anti-fog liquid for the lenses, one-litre chemically resistant insecticide sprayer tanks, and 12-litre polypropylene backpack-model sprayer insecticide tanks as well as 25 rechargeable non-contact infrared forehead thermometer units, are among the items.

The equipment and gear are valued at approximately $7 million, George said.

"We are particularly anxious to ensure that the necessary training in the use of (the equipment) is offered to the health care workers, as we see the health care workers are the people who are the first line of risk," George said.

Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson thanked Supreme Ventures for the donation. He noted that Jamaica's preparedness and response activities are a work in progress, but insisted that the country was well on its way.

"We are very pleased with the overall response that is coming in... We have to be very clear, while we have no direct flights from any of the affected countries to Jamaica, as it is now, we are seeing Ebola emerging in the United States, in Spain, and we do significant business and travel," he said. "So, our response must be heightened, especially at our points of entry. This is why the donation is so critical to our response at the border.

"It is a work in progress and we can say to the country that we are well on our way in terms of the preparations and response to Ebola," Dr Ferguson added.

The health minister was joined by National Security Minister Peter Bunting and Tourism Minister Dr Wykeham McNeill, who also expressed appreciation to Supreme Ventures Limited for the donation.

"The thing that spreads faster than Ebola is fear and panic, and the way to counter that is by preparing, educating and communicating what is there to the general population," Bunting said.

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