Government Proactively Planning To Mitigate Ebola

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014 – 14:00

The Government of the Virgin Islands is taking a proactive approach and is actively planning mitigation measures to manage the impact of Ebola, should it affect the Territory.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development and the Health and Social Service Committee of the National Disaster Management Council are leading the charge on behalf of the Government.

On Friday, October 10, members of the committee met for the third time at the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) to discuss local preparations.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Irad Potter who chaired the meeting, underscored the importance of multi-agency collaboration. “We have been working together with the Health Services Authority and border protection agencies for some time to ensure that as a Territory, we are fully equipped to handle infectious disease threats. We are also routinely monitoring health services staff to ensure consistency with medical practices and procedures for these types of diseases.”

As part of Ebola preparatory efforts, quarantine facilities have been identified at Peebles Hospital and containment arrangements have been made at all main ports of entry.

The Ebola virus continues to be a global threat.  Dr. Potter gave assurances that the BVI is making preparation to ensure that any potential imported cases are recognised early and brought to the attention of Public Health England, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and World Health Organization (WHO) on whom the Territory will rely on heavily to support the needed response.

In respect to airports Dr. Potter said, “In the absence of direct international flights into the BVI, we will benefit from the screening being done at various transit points before arrival in the Territory.  However, border control agencies updated their procedures for the handling of infectious diseases in keeping with International Health Regulations.”

According to Dr. Potter, the procedures were reviewed in detail and tested during the meeting through a desk top exercise.

The committee has also been in contact with PAHO regarding the increasing of stocks of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and making these accessible to Health Workers and Line Border Officers.

The BVI Health Services Authority has developed a refresher training programme for all front-line health staff both public and private in the use of PPE, and Universal Precautions for management of persons with infections.

These efforts are intended to ensure that staff is able to treat potential patients safely while minimising risk to themselves.

The Health and Social Service Committee of the National Disaster Management Council will meet again at the end of the month to review arrangements at health facilities and ports of entry.

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