The Ministry of Health assures the Barbadian public that it is aggressively addressing the threat of Ebola, contrary to comments attributed to Dr. Carlos Chase, President of Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), in an article carried in the Weekend Nation of October 3, 2014.
Measures implemented to date include: heightened surveillance at ports of entry, and sensitisation of Immigration and Customs Officers; upgrading of quarantine facilities at the ports of entry; development and dissemination of a procedural manual on Ebola to healthcare providers, including BAMP; intensive hands-on training of healthcare providers, in keeping with regional and international best practices; sensitisation of key partners and the general public; establishment of an Isolation Unit on the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Enmore; and verification of the stock levels of personal protective equipment, including body suits.
The Ministry notes that Dr. Chase???s statement that the bodies of persons who have died from Ebola should be cremated is consistent with the Ministry???s position, as stated in the Ebola Procedural Manual, which also provides for burial in a hermetically-sealed casket. Discussions have been initiated with Funeral Directors on this matter.
In relation to the concern raised about the size of the Isolation Centre, the Ministry has been advised by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) that the capacity is adequate. In response to concerns about the location, the Enmore site is part of the extended acute care hospital campus.
The Ministry reiterates that the mode of transmission of Ebola is by direct contact with the bodily fluids of ill and deceased persons. The centre at Enmore was specifically designed for the management of infectious diseases and to ensure that there would be no threat to the public.
In respect of the BAMP President???s point that doctors were not up to speed on the Ebola issue, the Ministry notes that not only were meetings and training sessions conducted for private and public practitioners at which the procedures for handling Ebola were discussed, but the Ministry is also in direct communication with the medical fraternity, updating them regularly with Ebola bulletins.
Meanwhile, the Ministry also wishes to address concerns raised in the article by an unnamed health official about the non-arrival of body suits. The Ministry assures the public that it has in excess of 1,000 body suits available for use.
In relation to the suggestion that there should be a regional approach to Ebola, both PAHO and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are approaching the threat of Ebola from a regional perspective, but national preparedness and response efforts are also essential.
The Ministry hopes that this statement serves to clarify Dr. Chase???s misconceptions, and is encouraging BAMP to continue to be a responsible partner with the Ministry of Health in addressing the threat of infectious diseases and all other healthcare issues.