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What we learned about Suspected MonkeyPox in Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, July 25, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos is still waiting for confirmation on that first suspected case of MonkeyPox, what we do know is the suspected case is from a resident with a history of travel to the UK, this is according to Dr. Nadia Astwood, Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health & Human Services in response to Magnetic Media questions about the case.

Apparently samples cannot be shipped to CARPHA with the courier services operating out of the TCI because the disease is classified as a ‘Category A’ pathogen.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says, “Category A pathogens are those organisms/biological agents that pose the highest risk to national security and public health because they

  • Might cause public panic and social disruption

OR

  • Require special action for public health preparedness.   Among other reasons.

As a result TCI health officials say they are “diligently working on developing local capacity for testing utilizing equipment acquired by the NPHL during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The individual is in isolation and is apparently recovering well.

Health officials say the person turned up to a healthcare provider, not the ER, and they are now  carrying out contact tracing.  Local testing should be up soon to confirm the presence of the virus.

If the virus is confirmed to be on island, the Ministry of Health and Human Services says they will make a formal announcement and healthcare providers are already on alert.   Anyone presenting with the signs and symptoms of MonkeyPox to any healthcare provider will trigger an immediate response including testing contact tracing and isolation.

“The MOHHS has requested that all health care providers have a high index of suspicion due to the unprecedented global spread of this disease which has been confirmed in countries with close travel ties to the TCI as well as recent confirmation of cases in the Caribbean region,” Astwood said.

While she did not give a concrete turnaround time for testing and she did not reveal which island reported the suspected case, Dr. Astwood said results will come as soon as is practical.   Additionally, isolation for positive individuals will be observed at home due to the mild nature of the disease and can last up to 21 days.

To stay protected the MOHHS said to residents, “It is important that the public stays informed and takes precautions to protect their health and that of those around them as the pandemic is ongoing and there is the added threat of MonkeyPox.  The same hygienic measures are recommended for both illnesses inclusive of mask wearing.”

Almost all of the TCIs major travel partners including the US,UK, Canada, Dominican Republic and Jamaica have recorded cases.

Health

Dengue Update Peru – Health Emergency Declared

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

#Peru#Dengue, February 28th, 2024 – The Government of Peru in response to the spike in Dengue cases, has declared a health emergency in 20 regions for 90 days. This was announced on February 26th at a press conference, according to a release from the Government. Additionally, to help fight the outbreak, over 160 million Peruvian soles or 42 million US dollars, has been proposed which will be allocated to various health operations.

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Caribbean News

PAHO Calls Americas to Increase Aedes aegypti Mosquito Control

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#PAHO#Dengue#Americas, February 23rd, 2024 – With nearly seven thousand cases of dengue and 102 deaths reported in the Americas as of early February 2024, the Pan American Health Organization is once again calling for stronger measures to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main transmitter of dengue. These numbers indicate a 157 percent increase in cases over the same period in 2023.  In the first five weeks of 2024, Peru, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay reported an increase in cases.

 

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Government

Ministry of Health and Human Services in Collaboration with UK Health Security Agency conducts Migrant Health needs Assessment  

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services has partnered with a team from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) Public Health Programme to conduct a health needs assessment for communities in informal settlements throughout the TCI.  This project was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and has taken place through a series of consultations and meetings in order to assess health needs and propose recommendations to address gaps in access to health care.

A steering committee supported the preliminary discussions on developing the scope and direction for the assessment and included representation from the TCI from Dr. Dawn O’Sullivan, Dr. Camelia Clarke (Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit), Mrs. Aldora Robinson (Former Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit) and Dr. Nadia Astwood (Chief Medical Officer).

This project culminated in an in-country visit by a team which included: Annabel Grieve (Programme Management Lead), Dr. Amoolya Vusirikala (Public Health Registrar) and Allegra Chatterjee (Epidemiologist) with earlier support provided by Dr. Natalie Wright, Health Protection Lead and Consultant in Global Public Health with the UK Overseas Territories, Global Operations. The visit, which began on January 21st 2024 and concluded this week, saw a number of in-person consultations with key stakeholders across sectors, as well as community focus groups conducted in Providenciales and Grand Turk.

Following the visit, the team paid a courtesy call to the Hon. Minister of Health and Human Services, Shaun D Malcolm and the Executive Team from the Ministry of Health and Human Services, to provide a high level debrief and presentation of the preliminary findings of the assessment. Following further analysis of the findings of the visit, a final report will be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Human Services which will provide a number of conclusions as well as evidence-based recommendations for consideration by the Government.

Commenting on the visit, Hon. Shaun D Malcolm stated that “we welcome this support from UKHSA and FCDO with whom the Ministry of Health has enjoyed a close working relationship and technical support over the years, to formally assess the health needs of this population in order to ensure that the overall health of our population can be addressed in a holistic manner to ensure that universal access to health care is addressed.”

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