Jamaica Activates Ebola Response Plan

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton made the announcement in Parliament yesterday.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday July 24, 2019 – Jamaica’s Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan has been reactivated on the heels of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring as outbreak of the deadly disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The response plan was implemented in 2015 in the midst of an outbreak in West Africa. And Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton said it was being put into action to increase awareness and educate stakeholders.

During a Statement to the House of Representatives yesterday, he said his Ministry is undertaking specialized training and retraining of relevant stakeholders, including Immigration and Customs personnel, Port Health Staff, Public Health Departments, Clinical Care Teams and all persons who may handle specimen.

Also, surveillance at points of entry to the island through sensitization and screening will be enhanced, and clinical protocols for management and infection control practices are being reviewed.

“We are also reinforcing our laboratory response capabilities and preparing isolation areas at our public health facilities. Back in 2015, we had procured Personal Protective Equipment, which were distributed to hospitals. We also put in storage emergency stock at the Ministry’s Central Stores. We are now doing an inventory of these items and additional items will be procured as required,” Dr Tufton said.

The Health Minister sought to assure the public that the response arrangements are in place to enable an appropriate response in the event that the Ebola virus is introduced to the island.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Health and Wellness in Barbados said it was reviewing and updating its Ebola Plan to ensure authorities are able to respond effectively if the need arises.

Minister of Health and Wellness Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic 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.

The action by Caribbean nations also follows advice the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) gave to regional countries to enhance disease surveillance at their ports of entry and health facilities.

Ebola is a rare but severe and oftentimes fatal illness in humans. Since 1976, there have been 10 outbreaks.

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