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The 15 COVID-19 Questions every Health Minister should be asking

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#WorldHealthOrganization – March 3, 2020 — A string of questions and whether they can be answered in the affirmative will give governments and citizens of the countries of the world clear perspective about readiness for COVID-19, the new coronavirus which has claimed over 3,100 lives in its three-month existence.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, World Health Organisation Director General listed the probing questions during a news conference on Thursday February 27, 2020.

Dr. Ghebreyesus informed the watching world that the earnest and honest response of the various Ministers of Health will be the indicator of a country’s true preparedness for the coronavirus.

The first question points to an eventuality that many countries either hope or had hoped would never come; the arrival of COVID-19 within its borders.

Question one: “Are we ready for the first case?”

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The second question is a natural follow-up and asks: “What will we do when the first case arrives?”

Since no one wants to see a community spread of coronavirus, the Director General pointed to the next focus which, according to him, must be:  “Do we have an isolation unit ready to go?”

The rapid rate at which COVID-19 has infected people of countries around the world has stretched capacity; human and supplies alike.

Dr. Ghebreyesus advised, Health Ministers must literally check stock and question, “Do we have enough medical oxygen, ventilators and other vital equipment?”

Jamaica Minister of Health at Norman Manley Intl Airport

Travel and global connectivity by air and sea have made this virus go viral in record time; it is nearly impossible to ascertain who is where and where people may end up.

The Director General is asking for health care leaders to consider this mobility of people in their plans, with this question:  “How will we know if there are cases in other areas of the country?”

Establishing protocols in the public and private sector is also critical, especially for medical professionals. 

The question should be: “Is there a reporting system that all health facilities are using and a way to raise an alert if there is a concern?”

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Additionally, the question: “Do our health workers have the training and equipment they need to stay safe?”

Thousands of health care workers have been sickened by coronavirus, some have also died.

Standard practices must also be established among these health practitioners and the WHO advises that it should be asked: “Do our health workers know how to take samples correctly from patients?”

Travel restrictions, advisories and bans have been imposed in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.  The $7.6 trillion travel and tourism industry, despite being a significant economic driver, has been put second place when possible infections have turned up at borders; doors are being slammed shut on plane and boat loads of passengers.

CARPHA holds regional meeting to share COVID-19 strategies for Caribbean region

Dr. Ghebreyesus said Health Ministers must ensure they can satisfactorily answer this question, which is:  “Do we have the right measures at airports and border crossings to test people who are sick?”

Accuracy and expediency are also sought after, as health care system managers aim to determine as soon as possible who is or is not carrying COVID-19. 

The WHO offered this question to assist proficiency: “Do our labs have the right chemicals that allow them to test samples?”

It has been widely communicated that COVID-19 has proven fatal for the elderly and those with serious pre-existing health conditions.  Medical teams must know: “Are we ready to test patients with severe or critical disease?”

Bahamas Health Minister holds press conference to announce protocols to fend off COVID-19

Another question helps to circumvent complications for Coronavirus patients; “Do our hospitals and clinics have the right procedures to prevent and control infections?”

Already, there are disturbing accounts of fear-filled citizens who are rowdily rejecting their own people due to well-founded concerns of contracting the potentially deadly COVID-19.  The WHO is strongly advocating against stigmatization and asks Health leaders to consider this…

Turks and Caicos Islands Health Team hold news conference

“Do our people have the right information; do they know what the disease looks like? In 90 percent (of patients) it is a fever and in 70 percent (of patients) it is a dry cough.”

Fake news and fear-mongering are popular but counter-productive pastimes for far too many individuals in this social media age.  Dr. Ghebreyesus challenges leaders to come up with a strategy for media messaging.

Cruise ship blocked from entering Jamaica and Cayman Islands; crew member was confirmed to have influenza

“Are we ready to fight rumors and misinformation with clear and simple messages that people can understand?”

The final and fifteenth question is likely the most critical.

“Are we able to have our people on our side to fight this outbreak?”

The war being waged against COVID-19 is futile without community buy-in.  Messages about hygiene and trust of people to self-quarantine are all dependent upon a symbiotic relationship hinged on a shared desire of governments and people to preserve the health of the nation.  The impact of the coronavirus has proven this healthiness encompasses both human lives and the economies which sustain them.

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Bahamas News

Another American Tourist Dies in the Bahamas

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, November 29, 2022 – A sixth American tourist died on the island of Exuma in the Bahamas.

Police reports are that the 87-year-old woman, who is said to be from Virginia in the United States, was found unresponsive at the Grand Isle Resort and Residences on Friday, November 25.

The unidentified woman was in the country on vacation.

An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of her death.

In May, four American tourists died on the island of Exuma.  Three of them, Michael Phillips, his wife Robbie Phillips and Vincent Paul Chiarella, were found dead in their villas at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Exuma.  On May 27, a fourth tourist died during a diving expedition.

In August, a fifth American tourist died after testing positive for COVID.

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News

World’s Largest Volcano awake after 38 year slumber

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Hawaii, November 29, 2022 – Authorities in Hawaii are closely monitoring, so far, a small eruption from the world’s biggest volcano, The Mauna Loa situated on Hawaii’s Big Island.  The Mauna Loa has not erupted since 1984, but Monday, November 28th the, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory released a statement advising that an eruption began around 11:30 Sunday night.

“At this time, the eruption is limited to the summit area and is NOT threatening communities downhill— The Observatory has increased the Volcano Alert Level from “advisory” to “warning,” with aviation alert upgraded to “red.”  Some ash and volcanic glass fibers may become airborne and blow downwind,” the HVO said

According to the United States Geological Survey, under whose purview Hawaii falls, a Mauna Loa eruption could be very destructive.

It explained that all historically recorded Mauna Loa eruptions started in the summit area, like this one, but only about half have stayed in the summit.  On at least seven occasions flows from the volcano reached the ocean along the west coast of Hawaii within a matter of hours.

The volcano is known to produce copious amounts of fast-moving lava, potentially large and destructive earthquakes, volcanic gas and explosive eruptions.

In the last eruption in 1984, the volcanic smog was so far-reaching it covered nearly all of Hawaii.  Hawaii sits on the Ring of Fire like Indonesia and Japan, a volcanic belt in the pacific ocean which produces more seismic and volcanic activity than any other area in the world.

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Health

HIV/AIDS no longer a death sentence; Drugs help and Proactivity best for sexually active Men

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

November 29, 2022 – Back in 2020 when Covid-19 began to shut down businesses and terror at the unknown virus was high, evidenced in supermarket rows over toilet paper and lockdowns I can remember asking my mother whether she had experienced anything of this scale before.  Her answer? ‘HIV/AIDS.’ Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system.  If HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome

“It was terrible, people were just dropping dead, nobody knew what they had or what to do.” she said.

The sexually transmitted disease HIV first started appearing in 1981.  It spread rapidly with deadly, heartbreaking consequences.

That was forty one years ago.  Now, World AIDS day is celebrated each year on December 1st and while HIV/AIDS is considered a treatable and preventable disease, with verifiable reports that some people have even been cured of ‘terminal illness’, millions of people were consumed by the illness before scientists reached the breakthroughs which now allow patients to live productive lives.

Many of those lost to the HIV/AIDS were men and hundreds of thousands still contract the virus each year.

So how can you prevent contracting HIV/AIDS?  The Centres for Disease Control says

  • Abstain from sex
  • If you are sexually active limit your partners
  • Use physical protection (condoms) during sex
  • Don’t share needles

If you have had unprotected sex and think you may be HIV positive or you just want to be protected, you can take HIV prevention medicines such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).  You must start PEP within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.

For those with a confirmed HIV diagnosis, the FDA says treatment is available.

“Treatment with HIV medicines is called antiretroviral therapy (ART).   ART is recommended for everyone with HIV.  It reduces a person’s viral load to an undetectable level.  Maintaining an undetectable viral load helps a person with HIV live a longer, healthier life.  People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.”

Men may shy away from having themselves examined by a doctor, but catching and treating HIV before it becomes AIDS is crucial and greatly lengthens one’s life expectancy.

If you have the virus there are ways to manage it and to keep your loved ones and sexual partners safe.

You can have a relatively normal life.  There is still hope.

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