(Trinidad Guardian) The Ministry of Health has teamed up with several local and regional stakeholders to develop new response to the Zika virus as it threatens the tourism industry and sparks panic among pregnant women as medical studies are linking potential serious birth defects to newborn babies.
Officials from several agencies, including the Caribbean Public Health Authority, the Pan American Health Organisation, the T&T Medical Association (TTMA), T&T Medical Board, private medical bodies and representatives of all regional health authorities met in a day-long session, a release from the Health Ministry stated yesterday.
The Zika virus, which is transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito, has been reported in at least 70 countries.
In April, a specialist committee led by Dr Karen Sohan, Medical Chief of Staff, Mt Hope Women’s Hospital, was established to develop specific processes and procedures to respond to the diagnosis of the Zika virus in patients, with special attention being paid to pregnant women and developing foetuses.
However, health officials said yesterday with the clinical outcomes changing daily in relation to Zika, it was imperative that both public and private health experts be brought together to come up with a comprehensive and all-encompassing response mechanism.
That, the ministry claimed, would enable T&T to “continue to be a leader in the management of all mosquito-borne diseases,” including dengue, chikungunya and Yellow Fever.
The new strategy in the fight against Zika would be incorporated into the existing integrated management strategy for mosquito-borne diseases to ensure the protection and good health of the population, the release added.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday declined to disclose what the new response mechanisms would entail or how it would vary from existing arrangements.
He promised that a joint statement would be issued by the TTMA soon.
In January, Deyalsingh declared the Zika virus a “national public health emergency” days ahead of the World Health Organization (WHO) pronouncement that it was “public health emergency of international concern.”
Since then, there have been campaigns across the country for people to clean their surroundings and remove receptacles that can encourage mosquito-breeding. The Insect Vector Control has also been spraying several communities.