CMO: Treatment Protocol In Place

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??Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John??

The Ministry of Health has already a ???Treatment Protocol??? in place in relation to prescribing and using Tamiflu to manage any suspected cases of Influenza A (H1N1) 2009.

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This assurance was given today by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John, in response to comments carried in the Saturday Sun (May 02, 2009) and attributed to a local medic. The unidentified doctor had advised the Ministry to ???take steps to make medication (Tamiflu and Relenza) to treat swine flu easily available for preventative care as soon as possible,??? and for ???an immediate education thrust to make people aware of what they should do to avoid contracting the virus.???

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However, Dr. St. John was quick to point out that ???the treatment protocol for Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) was being observed as this medication is not an over- the-counter prescription and there is a limited supply in Barbados. It is therefore imperative that specific criteria be outlined for its use,??? she stressed, noting that ???treatment will be given to close contacts if they meet the criteria for the case definition of Acute Respiratory Infection (ARI).???

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Urging the public not to attempt self-diagnosis, the CMO explained that ???a suspected case of H1N1 (swine flu) virus infection is defined as a fever and respiratory illness (ARI). It might have resulted from recent travel to an affected area (with confirmed cases of H1N1 or close contact with a person with a history of travel to an affected area within 7-10 days of the onset of symptoms,??? she said.

??In relation to the call for an immediate education thrust, Dr. St. John said this was currently under way.?????We have been very proactive in this matter. We have already had a session where we addressed close to 1,000 public health care workers at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) yesterday. We updated them on events and offered relevant information on how to deal with the situation at hand. Today, we will be conducting one for health care workers in the private sector and tomorrow (Sunday) there will be a session for non-health sectors, including churches.?? All these session will come off at the LESC, she revealed.

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