Cholera and the level of this country’s preparedness will come under the microscope at month-end when the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), hosts a stakeholders’ forum at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael

The meeting, which will be held from Tuesday, June 28, to Wednesday June 29, has as its key objectives to refine the country’s level of preparedness for cholera and to heighten awareness of approaches to strengthening capacity to respond appropriately.

It will bring together stakeholders from various sectors, including ??members of the primary health care team, along with representatives of sectors and departments that include the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Emergency Management Services, Private Health Care, Barbados Water Authority, Sanitation Services Authority, Coastal Zone Management Unit and PAHO. Media practitioners have also been invited as participants.

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, will deliver the feature address at the opening of the meeting on Tuesday, June 28, at 8:30 a.m.

The need for countries in the region to enhance their level of cholera preparedness has been flagged as a public health priority, since late last year, given the proximity of an outbreak in neighbouring Haiti, which has so far infected more than a quarter of a million people and caused in excess of 6,000 deaths.

In an effort to remain cholera free, Barbados has been putting a number of strategies in place to improve its ability to detect any imported cases at an early stage, and to appropriately manage any potential cases. These will be highlighted during the two-day seminar.

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms of the illness are profuse watery diarrhoea and vomiting and transmission is mainly through individuals using contaminated drinking water or food. The severity of the diarrhoea and vomiting can lead to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes help to control fluid levels in the body, maintain normal pH levels, and ensure the correct electric potential between nerve cells that enables the transmission of nerve signals.

Prior to the outbreak in Haiti, Caribbean countries had been free of cholera for more than 50 years.????

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