Cayman works on Ebola preparedness

| 17/07/2015
Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands Hospital, George Town

(CNS): Health professionals and other interested parties from 13 regional countries including Cayman took part this week in a simulated exercise on Ebola virus disease (EVD). Local participants included 24 members of the multidisciplinary Ebola Response Committee.

Led by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in association with the Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, the tabletop exercise, which took place 13-14 July, was among the steps that CARPHA has committed to take to help countries strengthen their preparedness for potential cases of Ebola.

During the discussions, the participants outlined the protocols that their respective agencies would follow in the event of an imported Ebola case. Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams, said it was important for countries routinely to review national public health emergency preparedness and response plans, as well as national command and coordination systems.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth McLaughlin noted that the exercise allowed participants to practice collaboration and teamwork and, on a larger scale, facilitated information sharing between countries and agencies.

“We are confident that the multi-sectoral teams will prove invaluable in effectively handling and containing an emergency of this nature,” she said.

CARPHA’s actions are focused on ensuring that member countries are able to detect, contain and prevent local transmission of imported Ebola cases. They are also part of the agency’s larger efforts to help members prevent and respond to public-health risks that threaten populations across borders.

Officials noted that all such actions take place within the framework of the International Health Regulations, a document which has been signed by World Health Organisation (WHO) member states.

As of 12 July, WHO had reported 27,642 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of EVD in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,261 reported deaths (this total includes reported deaths among probable and suspected cases, although outcomes for many cases are unknown).

In the week ending 12 July, 13 new confirmed cases were reported in Guinea, three in Liberia and 14 in Sierra Leone. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa therefore remains a public health emergency of international concern.

For more information, contact the Public Health Department on 244-2621.

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