Don’t Panic! Adequate Medication to Treat Patients in Dengue Outbreak, Says Jamaica’s Health Minister

Addressing the House of Representatives yesterday, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the stock level of certain drugs continues to be monitored. (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday February 13, 2019 – As Jamaica records six confirmed dengue deaths so far this year – all of the victims being children under the age of 14 years – Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton is seeking to assure Jamaicans that there is an adequate supply of medication to treat the dengue outbreak.

“There is no shortage of medication in the public or the private health system,” he said.

Addressing the House of Representatives yesterday, Dr Tufton noted that the stock level of certain drugs continues to be monitored, including paracetamol tablets, paracetamol syrup, oral re-hydration products and intravenous fluids.

Providing an update on the dengue outbreak affecting the island, the Minister said more than $600 million has been allocated in response to the outbreak.

“A part of our community engagement has been the involvement of members of the House and the Municipal Corporations, of which Cabinet has approved $55.7 million to Members of Parliament and $100 million to the Corporations to undertake vector control activities,” he noted.

Dr Tufton said for the month of February, the Ministry will continue to work with regional and international collaborators to sustain the ramped up vector control management, public education and clinical management.

“We urge Jamaicans to search for and destroy mosquito breeding sites around their homes; visit their doctors if they experience symptoms and follow the prescribed course of treatment,” he advised.

Minister Tufton reassured the public that the Ministry team is doing all it can to ensure the best possible health outcomes for those currently affected by dengue, to prevent the spread of the virus to other members of the population.

Meanwhile, he said work continues in clinical management with the sustained sensitization of all private and public doctors.

“Parish medical officers of health were re-sensitized on response and enhanced surveillance, the integrated management strategy to include enhanced vector control activities and clinical management,” he added.

Dr Tufton pointed out that a series of training workshops for clinicians across the four health regions were held, and electronic copies of current clinical guidelines on dengue prevention and control were disseminated.

He said the extended opening hours programme continues to facilitate increased access by patients needing medical care at selected health centres.

The Health Minister noted that as at February 8, the Ministry classified 1,166 suspected, presumed or confirmed cases with dates of onset in 2019. He added that in 2018, the Ministry classified 1,023 suspected or confirmed cases.

“The weekly number of cases appears to be plateauing, and while we need to wait for another two to three weeks to be sure, this is an encouraging sign,” he said, adding that the experts theorize that numbers will begin to trend downwards.

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