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India, Medicine Supplier to Caribbean, will Step Up Standards

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#India, March 6, 2023 – India says it is stepping up its pharmaceutical quality standards after being embroiled in two cases of mass infections because of substandard products made in the country.

The first case resulted in the death of dozens of children in the Gambia who ingested faulty cough syrup made in the South Asian Nation. The latest global recall of an Indian made product, ‘Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops’ distributed by EzriCare LLC and Delsam Pharma, which is in effect for the Turks and Caicos as well, left one person dead and others blind because of a bacterial infection.

Global Pharma Healthcare which makes the drops is part of a multi-billion dollar pharmaceuticals industry in India which supplies to the US, UK Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. It provides most of our cheaper generic medicines and is the third largest exporter. It is also the world’s leading supplier of vaccines.

Medicines are developed all over the world and sent off to India to be mass produced in medical manufacturing plants and while regulations are in place according to the South China Morning Post there aren’t enough regulators to cover the thousands of factories regularly. This allows substandard products to sometimes make it to the international market.

This can mean either the US, UK or Caribbean. The SCMP says in an interview Uday Bhaskar, who heads the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India promised that standards will be stepped up.

“The recent incidents, including the eye-drop issue, are going to reflect badly on the image of Indian pharma despite our significant contribution to protecting the (world) healthcare system,” he explained. “We can’t brush it off.”

The TCI Ministry of Health reminds residents to stop using ‘Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops’ distributed by EzriCare LLC and Delsam Pharma immediately and contact the Environmental Health Department for disposal instructions.

Health

The Ministry of Health and Human Services Warns Public About Heat-Related Illnesses Amid Rising Temperatures

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With the summer heat intensifying, the Ministry of Health and Human Services is urging the public to take precautions against heat-related illnesses, which can pose serious health risks. Heat-related illnesses include conditions such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash. Vulnerable populations, such as young children, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions, are at increased risk.

Understanding Heat-Related Illnesses:

  1. Heat Stroke: A life-threatening condition where the body’s temperature rises above 103°F. Symptoms include confusion, hot and dry skin, rapid pulse, and loss of consciousness.
  2. Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, and fainting. If not addressed promptly, it can lead to heat stroke.
  3. Heat Cramps: Painful muscle spasms, usually occurring in the legs or abdomen often due to heavy sweating and loss of salt and water.
  4. Heat Rash: Skin irritation caused by excessive sweating, presenting as red clusters of small blisters.

Prevention Tips

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you.
  2. Stay Cool: Spend time in air-conditioned environments.
  3. Dress Appropriately: Wear lightweight, light-coloured, and loose-fitting clothing. Use hats and sunscreen when outdoors.
  4. Limit Outdoor Activities: Limit strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Plan outdoor events for the cooler morning or evening hours. Take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors if you must be outside.
  5. Check on Vulnerable Individuals: Ensure that family members, friends, and neighbours, especially those who are elderly or have health conditions, are staying cool and hydrated.

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Health

Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected

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World Food Safety Day 2024

 

Foodborne diseases (FBDs) remain a public health concern in the Caribbean and across the world, with one in 10 people worldwide falling ill from contaminated food each year[1]. Increasing numbers of FBD cases and outbreaks have been reported across CARPHA Members States (CMS), especially in the tourism and cruise ship industry.  FBDs can cause morbidity, mortality, and economic burden of countries; it can also pose significant economic, social, and reputational impact on trade and tourism.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) joins the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) to commemorate World Food Safety Day on June 7th.  The theme for 2024 “Food safety: prepare for the unexpected” reiterates that food safety is a collective responsibility, and everyone needs to play their part.  

 At all levels, we must be prepared to intervene if food safety is compromised, such as:

  • Governments can update national food safety emergency response plans, strengthen national food control systems, increase surveillance and coordination capacities, and improve communication.
  • Food businesses can improve food safety management plans, collaborate, and share lessons learnt and improve communication with consumers.
  • Consumers can ensure they know how to report or respond to a food safety incident.

Dr. Lisa Indar, Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division at CARPHA stated that “Food safety is crucial for supporting economic productivity in the tourism dependent, vastly culinary diverse Caribbean region.   CARPHA is contributing to regional food security through improving food borne diseases surveillance and food safety in its 26 Member States.”

In a 2021 WHO study, the incidence of FBD was 1 in 11 during the mass gathering events, such as cricket matches, carnival, food festivals, etc.[2] With this in mind and as the Caribbean is hosting the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup (May/June 2024), CARPHA continues to be proactive and lead the regional public health response.  The Agency has collaborated with both health and tourism stakeholders of the six Caribbean Cricket World Cup (CWC) host nations (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago) to strengthen surveillance, early warning and response, laboratory, health, prevention and control and food safety capacity in preparation for CWC and other mass gathering events.

During this preparatory phase from February to May 2024, almost 900 food vendors likely to be selling food at the cricket stadiums/and its environs, were trained in Food Safety for Food Handlers for Mass Gathering Events. Additionally, a Mass Gathering Surveillance System was developed and implemented to capture the six internationally recognised potential syndromes, which includes gastroenteritis.

To adequately address FBD and food safety in the Caribbean, CARPHA is implementing an integrated foodborne diseases program, integrating the epidemiological, laboratory, environmental and veterinary aspects of FBD surveillance and response, into a coordinated programmatic approach, regionally and nationally. Its components of surveillance, training, capacity building, outbreak investigation, research, preparation and control, are addressing FBD in a wholistic manner to promote food safety in the Region. CARPHA has also trained and certified over 500 persons in nine of its Member States in advanced food safety and has developed a suite of hospitality, health, food safety and environmental standards, to provide a basis for the development of an effective food safety program for the hospitality industry.

CARPHA remains committed to working with partners and Member States to strengthen regional food safety through multi-sectoral collaboration, capacity building activities, exchange of information and communication.

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Ministry of Health and Human Services recognises International Men’s Health Week 2024, coincides with Blood Donor Day

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#TurksandCaicos, June 8, 2024 – As International Men’s Health Week (IMHW) 2024 approaches, communities and organisations around the world are preparing to raise awareness about the unique health challenges men face and promote proactive approaches to maintaining and improving men’s health. This annual event, taking place from 10 June to 16 June, aims to encourage men and boys to prioritise their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The theme for IMHW 2024 is “Stronger Together”, emphasising the importance of community, support networks, and collective action in enhancing men’s health outcomes. By fostering connections and encouraging open conversations about health issues, we can create a supportive environment where men feel empowered to seek help and make healthier choices.

Key Areas of Focus Include:

  1. Mental Health:Addressing the stigma around mental health and encouraging men to seek support for issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
  2. 2. Physical Health:Promoting regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine medical check-ups to prevent and manage conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  3. Preventive Care:Highlighting the importance of early detection and prevention strategies, including screenings and vaccinations.
  4. Healthy Relationships:Encouraging men to build and maintain healthy relationships is crucial for emotional and psychological well-being.
  5. Work-Life Balance:Advocating for policies and practices that support work-life balance and reduce stress and burnout.

Events and Activities:

Throughout the month, the Ministry of Health and Human will be hosting a series of activities.

  1. June 14: Smart Parking lot, Providenciales- ‘Check your Numbers, know your Status’– this campaign encourages individuals to routinely check key health metrics such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels to monitor their risk for chronic conditions.  The campaign aims to empower individuals to take proactive steps toward early detection and prevention of serious health issues.
  2. June 15: Governor’s Beach Grand Turk- ‘Men in the Galley’ – an engaging event where men showcase their culinary skills by preparing healthy and creative dishes. Aimed at promoting better nutritional habits, the competition highlights the importance of cooking at home and the role of diet in maintaining overall well-being. This activity includes physical fitness challenges and health status checks.
  3. June 17: Health Matters Radio Program– RTC Monday 10 am: Colon Cancer in Men.
  4. June 24: Health Matters Radio Program– RTC Monday 10 am: Kidney Disease in Men.

The Minister of Health and Human Services, Honorable Shaun D. Malcolm, commented, “International Men’s Health Week is a crucial time for us to come together and address the specific health needs of men. By working together, we can create a healthier future for men and boys everywhere. Men’s health is not just a personal issue; it’s a community issue. When men are healthy, families and communities thrive. Encourage the men in your life to prioritise their health and seek help when needed.”

For additional information please visit the Ministry of Health and Human Services Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tciministryofhealth/.

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