Ministry of Health Provides an Update on Monkeypox
#TurksandCaicos, May 23, 2022 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services has been carefully monitoring reports of monkeypox which have been increasing and are being reported in multiple countries across Europe (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden), the US, Canada and Australia. 12 countries which are not endemic for monkeypox, so far have reported at least 92 confirmed cases with 28 pending investigations. More cases are likely to be reported as surveillance expands.
Although no cases have been reported in the Caribbean, it is important that persons are aware of the situation as it continues to evolve.
Monkeypox is a viral illness and is found in a number of countries in Central and West Africa. The more recent news of spread to countries without known endemic disease is unusual. Cases may occur in persons who have travelled from Nigeria or who have been in contact with persons with the confirmed illness. Cases which have been reported since May 14 2022, have largely had no history of travel.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced that the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed in England since 6 May is 20. The UKHSA initially identified one case of monkeypox on 7th May 2022 in an individual with a history of recent travel to Nigeria. Subsequently, additional infections have been identified, some of which have been linked and others which have been unrelated. This spread as well as the occurrence of cases in Europe and other countries has suggested the possibility of community spread. Active investigations are ongoing in countries which have identified cases including contact tracing, testing isolation etc. in order to prevent further spread.
The World Health Organization (WHO), held an emergency meeting on Friday 20th May 2022 to discuss the monkeypox outbreak. WHO is working with affected countries in order to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease.
It is expected that more cases will be identified through surveillance with the possibility of additional countries being affected.
TCI residents returning from, or going to, countries where cases have been identified, are urged to be aware of the signs of infection and to seek medical help if they think they may be at risk.
How the virus spreads
Monkeypox does not spread easily between people. The virus spreads through close contact with an infected animal (rodents are believed to be the primary animal reservoir for transmission to humans), humans, or materials contaminated with the virus. Human-to-human transmission occurs through large respiratory droplets and by direct contact with body fluids or lesion material. Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.
The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).
Person-to-person spread is uncommon, but may occur through:
- contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person
- direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs
- coughing or sneezing of an individual with a monkeypox rash
Animal-to-human transmission may occur through a bite or scratch, preparation of wild game (in areas where the virus is present in animals such as Central and West Africa), and direct or indirect contact with body fluids or lesion material.
Individuals, particularly those who are gay, bisexual or MSM, are urged to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a health services if they have concerns.
Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex. It can also be passed on through other close contact with a person who has monkeypox or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.
The incubation period is the duration/time between contact with the infected person and the time that the first symptoms appear. The incubation period for monkeypox is between 5 and 21 days.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.
Within 1 to 2 days a rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.
The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which later falls off.
The illness tends to be mild and self-limiting within 2-4 weeks, however it can in some cases be severe particularly in persons with weakened immune systems and children. In some cases, affected persons may die.
Treatment for monkeypox is mainly supportive. The illness is usually mild and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment.
There is no specific vaccine for monkeypox, however, vaccines used against smallpox can be used for both pre and post exposure and is up to 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. People vaccinated against smallpox in childhood may experience a milder disease.
Anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, is advised to visit their health care provider, particularly anyone who; 1) traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported 2) reports contact with a person who has a similar rash or received a diagnosis of confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or 3) is a man who has had close or intimate in-person contact with other men in the past month.
As the virus does not usually spread easily between people and the risk to the general public is expected to be low, however the public is advised to monitor the situation as it develops and obtain information from credible sources. The MOH should be notified of any suspected cases.
The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor developments and provide updates accordingly.
Women’s Health Connectivity and health a study for TCI’S benefit
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – As the country moves toward new fiber optic connectivity, bridging the digital divide could be a game changer for healthcare and other family-friendly services in the TCI.
The power of universal digital connectivity across countries was one of the recurring themes when the United Nations in partnership with the Network of Afro Caribbean Women and the Diaspora recently explored how technology, innovation and education are being used to address women’s health issues.
The session aimed to highlight success stories and explore how those processes can be replicated to help women and girls globally including in The Turks and Caicos.
The UN explained that despite holding a 70 percent majority in healthcare jobs, women are poorly represented in leadership roles and subject to systemic gender inequalities that can make receiving healthcare challenging.
As delegates from Chile and Rwanda, who were also partners in the session, shared the upgrades to their countries’ systems that had significantly improved the level of care available to their women, digital connectivity was a deciding factor.
In Rwanda the health ministries have begun to use drones to deliver medicine, SMS messages to alert about health threats and a completely digitized health care that eliminates paper documents for pregnant women and makes records accessible to any doctor, immediately.
Rwandan delegate, Rose Rwabuhihi shared tips that countries should keep in mind when trying to implement new processes to benefit women and the wider community.
- Partnership and sustainability are key factors to successful programs. She urged governments not to give up on projects or allow their partners to give up on them halfway.
- Education campaigns to introduce residents to the technology: “We need to build skills and deepen the knowledge so they can use the innovations that have been put in place especially in rural areas.
Poor connectivity and technological issues have plagued the TCI for years especially in the islands outside of Providenciales. Government has substantially acknowledged this disparity in communications services and is investing in a new undersea cable to augment services in the Turks and Caicos.
The UNs perspectives can now ignite a fire for even more family friendly, digital services.
In fact,Senator Yasna Provoste Campillay, the Chilean Delegate explained how connectivity and videoconferencing had been used to reach the county’s women in the most rural of areas. Chile is a long country, its landmass spread lengthwise creating unique communication challenges. While healthcare in Chile is separated by length the Turks and Caicos islands are disconnected by the ocean and solutions that prove useful for the South American country could well be worth implementing locally.
A short look at Celery
March 17, 2023 – Celery is a great food for people trying to lose weight or just put healthy meals on the table. It’s mostly made up of water and with only ten calories per stalk, you can add it into juices, salads, stir frys and more, without worrying about large amounts of sugar.
There are other health benefits as well. Healthline says it is rich in antioxidants, reduces inflammation, supports digestion and it can help with heartburn from spicy foods!
TCI farmers have hopped onto the celery train and the nutritious vegetable will be available to purchase, in a debut for celery, at the Farmers Market this Saturday March 18th from 8:30 am to 1pm.
WHO Ranks Air Quality, Grenada ranks high others not measured
By Dana Malcolm
March 17, 2023 – A new air quality report from IQAir claims only six countries met the World Health Organization’s Guidelines on Air quality in 2022, Australia, Estonia, Finland, Grenada, Iceland and New Zealand but the Northern Caribbean was almost totally excluded from the list.
There were no results for The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica, Haiti or Cayman. The blame for that though may lie with the countries themselves. IQAir said there were major gaps in government-operated regulatory instrumentation in many parts of the world. The organization revealed that it was citizens who were picking up the slack.
“Low-cost air quality monitors sponsored and hosted by citizen scientists, researchers, community advocates, and local organizations, have proven to be a valuable tool to reduce the massive inequalities in air monitoring networks across the world, until sustainable regulatory air quality monitoring networks can be established,” it said.
It may be time for more Northern Caribbean Governments to look into outfitting their countries with air monitoring devices for the health of their residents.
The Caribbean countries including Trinidad, Barbados, the US Virgin Islands etc, that did make the list, ranked very low in the pollution index with air quality just outside the WHO standards and much better than most major cities, except Grenada, which ranked in the bottom six which for this list means best in class.
The WHO measures air quality based on how much fine particulate matter and other basic pollutants are in the air.
Aidan Farrow, Air Quality Scientist at Greenpeace International said, “Too many people around the world don’t know that they are breathing polluted air. Air pollution monitors provide hard data that can inspire communities to demand change and hold polluters to account, but when monitoring is patchy or unequal, vulnerable communities can be left with no data to act on.”
The report is now encouraging citizens to take air pollution into their own hands and not wait for their Governments to attack the issue.
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