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Health ministry seeks to acquire fever-detecting devices

BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter matthewsk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 18, 2014    

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THE health ministry says that it will be moving to acquire fever-detecting devices to use at the island's ports as part of efforts to boost the country's defence against the deadly Ebola and other viruses.

According to Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, his ministry has begun to carry out checks about the device following a recommendation made at a meeting last Thursday between health officials and a team from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"We have been working with the WHO relative to Ebola and Chikungunya and where we are now, when we met last Thursday, the point was raised about the machine," said the minister.

He said since the meeting, the ministry had started discussions and was also checking the cost of the machine with a view to acquiring some of the devices.

"If it represents best practice and it is recommended, I can assure you that Jamaica will be fully on board," said Ferguson.

He said that different countries within the Caricom were at different stages of development and he was of the view that Jamaica was one of the most experienced in the region relative to emergency responses to communicable diseases or natural disasters.

As such, he said he was determined to do what was necessary to keep the country on par with developments across the world.

The minister made the comment last Wednesday during a Food For the Poor (FFP) presentation of approximately 16,000 units of intravenous fluid to the ministry.

The event was held at the Food For the Poor Chapel, Spanish Town, St Catherine.

"This donation is significant and is valued at over US$15,600 and will go a far way in adding to our present resources in this area," said Minister Ferguson.

Andrew Mahfood, FFP board chairman, said not only was the organisation happy to make the contribution but was also looking forward to working with the ministry to provide help wherever it was needed.

After the event, Ferguson also announced plans to enter a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FFP that would strengthen the charity's working relations with the Government.

Food For the Poor, he said, has provided tremendous support, valued at more than $4 billion, to the health ministry over the past two years.

"What we have put on the table is that, given the gaps in our health budget, it would make good sense that we are able to establish an MOU that will allow for greater accountability and transparency in how the two entities work," said Ferguson.

Health officials report that the Ebola virus is one of the most virulent microbes known to man, killing up to 90 per cent of those infected.

According to the WHO, the current epidemic in West Africa is the largest to date and has now killed over 1,000 people.

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