KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday September 12, 2016 – The Jamaica Government has earmarked $50 million to establish a fund to provide support for families of babies born with Zika-related microcephaly.
Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton said the fund will be used to support interventions to assist families to cope with the condition in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains and small heads.
“This will involve preparedness of high-risk clinics and special-care nurseries throughout the country, home visits to mothers and children as well as psychosocial counselling support,” he told the Jamaica Information Service.
Noting that two to 12 per cent of pregnant mothers who have had Zika are at high risk for having a child with microcephaly, the minister added: “What we want to do as a Government is to be prepared and not wait until it happens and then try to reach out and determine what needs to be done, so this fund is specifically going to be used to give critical support to both mother and child once the condition is confirmed with the birth of the child.”
The establishment of the fund is in addition to other measures implemented by the Government to combat Zika and its effects.
“Each day we discover a new issue related to the disease. We have been doing a lot to keep up with the research that is being done…with the data that we have collected locally and with the benchmark standards for combating the disease that have been established by the World Health Organization (WHO),” Dr. Tufton pointed out.
There have been almost 40 confirmed cases of pregnant women with the Zika virus and 501 suspected cases since January this year in Jamaica.
The Ministry of Health is providing free Zika testing of pregnant women.
The WHO has advised women living in areas where Zika transmission is ongoing to consider delaying pregnancy.