Barbados Updating Ebola Plan As Outbreak Declared a Public Health Emergency

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tuesday July 23, 2019 – The Ministry of Health and Wellness in Barbados says it’s reviewing and updating its Ebola Plan to ensure authorities are able to respond effectively if the need arises, as
the latest outbreak of the deadly disease is declared a global health emergency .

The World Health Organization (WHO) on July 17 declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a public health emergency of international concern.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Ministry disclosed that Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic, had met with the Ministry’s senior officials as well as representatives of the Bridgetown Port, the Grantley Adams International Airport and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to review the status of preparedness.

It assured the public that it will continue to take steps to strengthen its level of preparedness and these measures would inform the revision of the Ebola Plan.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has urged countries in the region to enhance disease surveillance at ports of entry and at health facilities.

“It is important that the region takes on a proactive approach.  Use this as an opportunity to review and strengthen your systems,” said CARPHA’s Executive Director Dr Joy St John.

CARPHA pointed out, however, that in keeping with the International Health Regulations and the statement on the meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 17, no country should close its borders or place any restrictions on travel and trade.

“Such measures are usually implemented out of fear and have no basis in science. They push the movement of people and goods to informal border crossings that are not monitored, thus increasing the chances of the spread of disease. Most critically, these restrictions can also compromise local economies and negatively affect response operations from a security and logistics perspective,” it stated.

CARPHA therefore urged national authorities should work with airlines, passenger ships and other transport and tourism industries to ensure they do not exceed the WHO’s advice on international traffic.

It said it would continue to monitor the developments and provide member states with guidance to support national response efforts, while strengthening regional health security in collaboration with regional partners.

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