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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.”

Caribbean News

Irish Humanitarian Organization in Haiti – Address Hunger Crisis and More

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#Haiti#Crisis#ConcernWorldwide, February 2oth, 2024 – Seeing that Haiti’s humanitarian crisis worsens day by day with too many Haitians, hundreds of thousands, edging the line to severe deprivation of food, Ireland’s largest aid and humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide is addressing major food insecurity. 

 The organization in a release said “ “We are providing food assistance, via electronic vouchers to help families purchase food from local vendors so that they can feed their families and prevent malnutrition in children as the situation worsens.”

They are also working to provide Haitians with clean water and sanitation as the waterborne disease Cholera continues to threaten lives, killing more than 1,150 people in 2023.

And, they provide referrals for cases of sexual and gender based violence in Port au Prince.

Concern is supported by funding from USAID, receiving €2.1 million (euros) to help over 30 thousand people in the hunger crisis as well as €1 million (euros) yearly from the Irish Government for its work in Haiti.

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Health

How to protect against HIV 

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 15, 2024 – HIV/AIDS has killed more than 40 million people globally since it first appeared in the human population in 1959 according to the World Health Organization WHO and even though there are effective treatments there is no cure making prevention practices a top priority for vulnerable groups.

In recent months claims have emerged of rising cases locally creating concern in some Turks and Caicos residents.  The Ministry of Health has remained silent on the issue and has not published relevant statistics despite repeated queries from Magnetic Media.

Given the continued presence of the virus, individuals are still at risk from infection. In fact the WHO says in 2022, when 630,000 people died from HIV-related causes and 1.3 million people acquired HIV.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus behind AIDS, the most advanced form of HIV.

The virus spreads through the body fluids of an infected person, including blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluids. It is not spread by kisses, hugs or sharing food.

With this in mind there are several steps that residents can take to protect themselves including

  • Using condoms during sex
  • Limiting sexual partners
  • Being tested regularly
  • avoiding sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
  • Using personal protective gear when dealing with bodily fluids

Vulnerable populations can be administered Pre Exposure Prophylaxis which work to prevent infection and Post Exposure Prophylaxis which can prevent the virus from taking hold.

An HIV diagnosis is not a death sentence.  In 2024 HIV can be treated and prevented with antiretroviral therapy (ART). These drugs strengthen the immune system which HIV weakens significantly.

Still the WHO encourages residents to take preventative action.

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Health

CARPHA: Take Action to Avoid the Harmful Effects of Saharan Dust

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February 16, 2024 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is urging persons to protect themselves against adverse health effects of a Saharan dust plume, which has covered many parts of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in a Dust Bulletin dated February 9th, 2024 stated, “it is highly likely that particulate matter levels will be above the 24-hour outdoor air quality guidelines” as established by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr Joy St John, Executive Director, CARPHA, explained “Saharan dust worsens air quality and increases the levels of particulate matter in the air.  This can be hazardous, especially to small children, older adults and people with underlying lung conditions and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases”.  Dr St John added, “Saharan dust can also worsen the health symptoms of those who suffer from asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”.

In light of the poor air quality levels, CARPHA is encouraging persons to take steps to avoid the harmful effects of Saharan dust. These include:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and when outdoors, wear a dust mask (eg. KN95)
  • Utilise a HEPA filter indoors to purify air in individual rooms
  • Persons who use medications for pulmonary conditions should carry them at all times and use as prescribed
  • At the first sign of difficulty while breathing, seek professional medical advice immediately
  • For less severe symptoms, standard allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays may alleviate symptoms

For more information, please see excerpts from the attached CIMH Dust Bulletin.

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