Minister of Health, Donville Inniss
Nurses are currently preparing for the second wave of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, while also enhancing their knowledge and skills in the management of the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), today started the first of two such sessions for nurses at PAHO’s headquarters at Dayrell’s Road.
In his address at the seminar, Minister of Health, Donville Inniss told nurses that the Influenza A (H1N1) virus "had the potential to adversely affect the very core of our economy and indeed our health care system, especially in the current economic climate."
He said: "Management of resources will be vital in ensuring that the public receives the necessary care and treatment. Like other emerging diseases and re-emerging diseases, this pandemic has already started to take its toll on the health care providers, of which the nurses are a major group. Too often individuals feel that nurses and doctors don’t get sick; but I am very much mindful of the fact that your efforts certainly in helping us to deal with this H1N1 have resulted in some personal challenges to you as well."
Nurses were also advised that to cope effectively with these challenges they would need to stay abreast of what was happening in the field of technology, along with?? advances in health care. Minister Inniss opined, "We know that we are living in a global village when we see how quickly these new diseases spread. So it becomes imperative that nurses carry out their tasks based on evidence-based techniques; so that there is a well-ordered implementation of a pandemic response."
He acknowledged that the second wave of the virus could bring with it an increase in panic, as the public sought answers about ways to protect themselves and their families, hence the timeliness of the workshop.
The Health Minister disclosed: "For this reason the nurses are being trained in how to tackle these situations at the community level, carrying out surveillance, helping the public to understand when to do, what not to do, not to worry and when they need to seek urgent medical attention. The capacity to identify risks early will aid in the implementation of preventative and control measures which will be key in avoiding the spread of the virus."??
These sentiments were also echoed by, Public Health Specialist with PAHO, Colin Browne, who also noted the importance of the seminar. He said: "This workshop is timely. With the Influenza A (H1N1) reaching pandemic phase as of October 25, 2009
worldwide, there were 440,000 laboratory confirmed cases of the disease and over 5,700 deaths reported to [World Health Organisation] WHO."
The PAHO representative with responsibility for the Eastern Caribbean added: "Pandemic influenza transmission remains active in many parts of the tropical zone of the Americas, most notably in the several Caribbean territories. In May 2009, we received some H1N1 emergency funds ($165,000) which were allocated to the eastern Caribbean countries for strengthening of surveillance capacity.
In Barbados, funds were used to enhance the capacity of the Public Health Laboratory and provide technical assistance with supporting workshops that are currently ongoing.
He further pointed out that the workshop would also allow Barbados’ Health Ministry to meet its commitments under the International Health Regulations 2005. This, he noted would include "strengthening its surveillance activities to detect, assess and respond to any threats that might constitute a public health emergency, such as H1N1".