Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, November 28, 2014: The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), continues to support countries in their preparation for potential cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD). The Agency has deployed professionals to nine Member States specifically, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago to support their preparedness to detect, respond and contain any potential imported case of Ebola.
These visits are being carried out jointly with the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization. The information collected will make recommendations to help inform national and regional operational response plans. There are currently no reported cases of EVD in the Caribbean Region.
The visits support recommendations made at the recently concluded Special Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Port of Spain, where a 10 point plan was developed for responding to EVD. At the meeting, the Heads of Government mandated CARPHA to chair the Regional Coordinating Mechanism on Ebola (RCME), which has the responsibility of developing a comprehensive regional strategy to address Ebola preparedness in collaboration with regional and international agencies, organizations and other key stakeholders.
While CARPHA maintains that the likelihood of a person with EVD coming to the Region is low, it recognizes that the consequences of an imported case could be very serious for population health, the tourism industry, the economy, and for security and public safety, and as such advocates that vigilance and preparedness is necessary.
According to Dr Babatunde Olowokure, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA, “The results of the reviews by these teams would strengthen efforts to ensure that countries are prepared to respond quickly to potential cases of Ebola thereby protecting those most at risk, such as healthcare workers.” He also said that, “the review missions would also ensure that CARPHA Member States develop capacities in line with the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).”
A number of key areas were reviewed by the joint CARPHA-PAHO/WHO teams including: epidemiological surveillance; contact tracing; laboratory practices for the safe collection, transport and analysis of specimens; capacities at ports of entry; clinical facilities for potential cases, and communication strategies to educate the population.