The Ministry of Health is collaborating with several ministries and agencies to coordinate its response to the dengue fever virus.
Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said that all the resources of the Ministry have been activated to combat the public health threat.
“I will meet with the Minister of Finance and other key ministers and heads of agencies to mobilise additional resources and meet with those agencies that are an important part of clean-up, whether it is gullies, garbage, anything that (contributes to increased) breeding of mosquitoes,” he said.
Dr. Tufton was speaking at a recent press briefing at the Ministry’s corporate offices in New Kingston.
He said that the Ministry is working with its regional teams to improve response at health facilities, particularly at Bustamante Hospital for Children, where at least one roving nurse is stationed, as well as customer service officers.
Senior Managers have been rostered to give administrative coverage after 5:00 p.m. and on weekends.
There is also employment of additional enrolled assistant nurses to complement registered nurses; sessional staff (nurses and doctors) in Accident and Emergency Departments; and customer service representatives.
St. Joseph’s Hospital and the National Chest Hospital will provide space for overflow from Kingston Public Hospital (KPH). A 20-bed ward is being refurbished at St. Joseph’s.
Framework agreements are also being explored with diagnostics and ambulance services, to expedite patient management in hospitals.
Other activities being employed by the Ministry include an extended public education campaign regarding mosquito breeding sites, symptoms of dengue, and personal protection tips. This has commenced and will continue until the end of January.
In addition, where necessary, the Ministry will outsource fogging activities to private contractors.
“We are intending on hiring another 500 vector-control aides. We have 500 currently in the system, and we are going to double those numbers in collaboration with the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme to create greater presence on the ground,” Dr. Tufton said.
“We are concerned, and every single case of dengue is something we regret and would like to avoid,” he added.
The Ministry of Health, through its regional offices, will engage with the parish councils and the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development for the removal of domestic waste/garbage from communities.
Dr. Tufton has indicated that all points of entry have been sensitised and educational materials are being distributed.
The Health Alert Card is also being utilised to inform travellers to the island about dengue fever and the actions to take in the event that symptoms develop.