Jamaica Health Minister Says International Partnerships Needed to Prevent Major Zika Outbreak in the Island

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton at the national consultation yesterday where he stressed the importance of international partnerships in preventing Zika outbreak. (Credit: JIS)

KINGSTON,
Jamaica, Wednesday March 27, 2019
– Minister of Health Dr
Christopher Tuftonsays international partnerships are needed and must be
maintained to prevent a major outbreak of the Zika virus in Jamaica.

Speaking at a national consultation, titled, ‘Strengthening Health
Services in the Context of Zika in Jamaica’, yesterday, he said it is
cross-border collaboration that will help Jamaica to better fight the disease.

“The more open we are as a
society, the more persons travel, the more persons trade, is the more we are
all susceptible, and the more it justifies the need for working together as
partners in all our collective interests,” Dr Tufton said.

The consultation was funded through the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve
Systems (ASSIST) Project.

Dr Tufton said the partnership with USAID represents one of the
international relationships he hopes to see continue.

“This partnership was absolutely critical in order to achieve the
objective of collaboration, because the reality is, we’re vulnerable, our
friends up north are vulnerable and, indeed, the world is vulnerable,” he said.

The Health Minister noted that between 2016 and 2018 there were
over 9,000 Zika cases in Jamaica, 600 Zika in pregnancy cases and over 100 congenital
Zika syndrome cases.

The consultation was geared towards better sensitizing medical
practitioners and other stakeholders in Jamaica about mosquitoes and the Zika
virus, while creating partnerships that will assist with the fight against the
communicable disease.

The objectives of the meeting included informing Jamaica’s medical community about evolving evidence on the long-term impact of the Zika virus; updating the Ministry of Health’s clinical management protocols, job aids and guidelines to strengthen health services in the context of Zika in Jamaica; focusing on gender inequalities that affect health outcomes and approaches to gender integration; and creating a joint Ministry of Health and ASSIST way forward to enhance scale-up and strengthening the context of Zika in Jamaica.

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