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Sick children stay home; surge in Flu & HFM makes TCI schools high-risk

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 21, 2022 – Parents are expected to support a plea by the ministries of Health and Education to keep their un-well children at home, proving that Turks and Caicos is not immune to the trend of spiking cases of influenza within schools which is causing increased levels of sickness generally among children and adults; it is leading to problematic staff shortages.

A virtual countrywide Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meeting was held by the TCI government on November 15th after what it described as an “alarming rise in communicable diseases in schools throughout the TCI.’

The meeting was called a week after reports emerged of almost two dozen suspected cases of Hand Foot and Mouth disease across eight schools.

The PTA invite indicated that more than one illness may have been in circulation.

Hand Foot and Mouth disease is usually mild and children will recover on-their-own, but symptoms can be painful for them according to the World Health Organization. Parents should look out for fever, eating or drinking less, a sore throat and general complaints of un-well feeling in their children. These will be followed by painful sores in the mouth, and a rash with blisters on hands, feet and buttocks.

Parents are reminded that HFM disease can still be spread even after initial symptoms have cleared up and to keep children at home for the entirety of the time recommended by medical professionals.

When it comes to Influenza, commonly known as the flu, Hopkins says this about the infection in children:  “It causes a high fever, body aches, a cough, and other symptoms. Most children are ill with the flu for less than a week. But some children have a more serious illness and may need to be treated in the hospital. The flu may also lead to lung infection (pneumonia) or death.”

Covid-19 is also high amongst school aged children in nearby nations.  The virus is also still being detected in the Turks and Caicos.

Aldora Robinson, Director of the Health Promotions and Advocacy Unit said the Ministry of Health and Human Services has been carrying out educational visits.

“We have been sending out messages and also going into the schools and doing sessions on handwashing.”

Health

No More Weekly COVID Updates, says WHO

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

September 29, 2023 – In a clear sign that the global community has moved past the emergency stage of the COVID-19 Pandemic; the World Health Organization (WHO) is suspending its weekly COVID updates and migrating to a monthly format.

The WHO has, for the duration of the pandemic, been more cautious about the pulling back of restrictions and reopening of borders than other country-based agencies.

In a September 1 report, they advised:  “Please note that this is the last edition of the COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update.  Moving forward, as WHO transitions its COVID-19 surveillance from an emergency response to long-term COVID-19 disease prevention, control and management, we will be providing updates every four weeks.”

The WHO, along with other health agencies like the US Centers for Disease Control, had been warning about the reduced reliability of COVID-19 data because of less robust testing worldwide for some time.

The disease was downgraded from a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in May 2023.

New boosters are still being approved and the WHO is predicting that the disease will have to be controlled with yearly vaccines as variants continue to emerge much like the Flu virus.

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Health

COVID + Kids, What to watch for 

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

September 29, 2023 – COVID-19 is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, but the disease is still present and can still affect the population including children.

Cough fever and difficulty breathing are only some of the symptoms that young children and babies might experience when infected with the viral illness, according to a report from Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Other symptoms include muscle or body aches; sore throat; loss of taste or smell; diarrhea; headache; fatigue; nausea or vomiting; congestion or runny nose.

Children may not be eloquent enough to properly convey their illness so parents are advised to pay close attention to their complaints and visible symptoms.

Though COVID-19 can be a mild disease for most, there are some cases that warrant immediate emergency medical attention the hospital says. These include:

  • Difficulty breathing or catching his or her breath
  • Inability to keep down any liquids
  • confusion or inability to awaken
  • Bluish lips

Both COVID and the flu tend to spike during the winter flu season so parents are advised to take precautions against them including mask wearing in high risk areas and frequent hand washing.

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Health

New report reveals stunning Blood Pressure statistics

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 29, 2023 – Hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide, and if countries do not scale up coverage tens of millions of people will die.  That’s according to a first-of-its-kind report on the global effects of hypertension from the World Health Organization.

The September 19th report indicated that the number of people living with hypertension has doubled in less than 30 years, between 1990 and 2019, from 650 million to 1.3 billion and nearly half of the affected are unaware.

The WHO is now calling on all countries including the Turks and Caicos to invest in the prevention, detection and management of hypertension as a matter of urgency.

The organization crunched the numbers to show countries what more focused programs could do.

“An increase in the number of patients effectively treated for hypertension to levels observed in high-performing countries could prevent 76 million deaths, 120 million strokes, 79 million heart attacks, and 17 million cases of heart failure between now and 2050,” it said.

Along with saving lives, the WHO says it can also decrease spending on health.  Health is usually the largest portion of the TCI budget.  The cost of preventing and managing the disease versus treating its effects is massive.

“The prevention, early detection and effective management of hypertension are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care and should be prioritized by countries as part of their national health benefit package offered at a primary care level.  The economic benefits of improved hypertension treatment programs outweigh the costs by about 18 to 1.”

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