Bahamas – NEMA facilitates training on Japanese Grant Aid disaster management gear

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is pleased to receive the remainder of equipment which is part of the $1.8 million Japanese Grant Aid project to The Bahamas in support of the country’s disaster management programme. The equipment includes four balloon lights, eight water pumps, 40 VHF base radio stations, and 200 hand-held radios.

Following donation of equipment by the Government of Japan to aid The Bahamas’ disaster management programme, training sessions on use of the equipment were held December 17-20, 2018 at NEMA on Gladstone Road.  Pictured far left is Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell along with Japanese training instructors and participants.  (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Some 25 staff from NEMA, personnel of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Ministry of Works underwent training, December 17-20, in basic operation and maintenance of the equipment.

Expert trainers were Derrick Holder and Ronald Alleyne from Barbados, and Takuro Nagai, Manager of the Technical Department and Hiroshi Ohbo, Manager/ Service and Maintenance Section of COMFORCE Japan.

In October 2018, the Government of The Bahamas through NEMA during an Official Handover Ceremony accepted from the Government of Japan a wheel crane, a tractor head truck, along with two 40-foot trailers, two freezer containers and two flatbed cargo trucks.

Over the next six months, NEMA, in collaboration with its public and private partners will aim to install a base radio and a number of hand-held radios in each of the Family Island-designated Emergency Operations Centers (EOC), to support the local Disaster Consultative Committees with their emergency communications.

The water pumps and balloon lights will be strategically placed among the three Emergency Relief Warehouses in Grand Bahama for the Northern Bahamas, New Providence for the Central Bahamas, and Great Inagua for the Southern Bahamas to be readily available for use in those areas, as necessary.

“Again the National Emergency Management Agency is pleased to see this programme successfully executed,” said Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell.

The programme commenced in April 2016 with the signing of a Grant Agreement, the formation of a local committee for the product selection and specifications, the tendering process and production of goods in Japan, and the eventual shipping to The Bahamas. This also included the support of two local companies –Five Stars Brokers and Four K’s Cargo — in clearing the shipment and delivering them to NEMA on Gladstone Road.

“The equipment and training should tremendously enhance the country’s disaster preparedness and response mechanism, particularly in the areas of inter-island communication, logistics and transportation,” said Captain Russell.

Jamaica – Health Ministry moves to stem the tide of dengue infections

The extension of the Enhanced Vector Control (EVC) Programme is among the raft of measures being taken by the Ministry of Health in response to a more active dengue season.

“Each suspected and/or confirmed case of dengue is concerning to the Ministry of Health and every effort is being made to put in place measures to ensure the best possible health outcomes for each Jamaican affected,” said Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton.

The EVC programme is to be extended to March 2019, to include the employment of an additional 500 temporary workers, who will join the effort to identify and eliminate mosquito breeding sites. This is to keep the public safe from vector-borne diseases, including dengue, that are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

In addition, the public can expect:

  • Increased fogging in communities, particularly those with clusters of dengue cases;
  • Continued implementation of the USAID-ZAP programme, whose team has worked with the Ministry’s vector control staff in more than 71 communities to eliminate mosquito breeding sites; and
  • Ongoing collaboration with the University of the West Indies, Mona at the Mosquito Control and Research Unit to reduce the spread of vector-borne diseases.

“The vector control efforts of the Ministry and its partners have been shown to yield success. However, the gains can only be sustained and multiplied by the householder taking action. We, therefore, encourage members of the public to support our interventions by keeping their homes and places of work free of mosquito breeding sites,” said Director of the Health Promotion and Protection Branch at the Ministry, Dr. Simone Spence.

Meanwhile, with the increase in dengue cases helping to put pressure on the public health system, the Ministry is also working with its regional teams to address the overcrowding at some facilities, including at Bustamante Hospital for Children, where:

  • At least one roving nurse is stationed, together with Customer Service Officers, to respond to patients’ needs as they come in;
  • Senior Managers have been rostered to give administrative coverage after 5:00 PM and on weekends; and
  • There is additional employment of Enrolled assistant nurses to complement Registered Nurses.

Other response measures include:

  • Extended opening hours at several health centres within the South East Health Region;
  • Increased sessional staff (nurses and doctors) in hospitals’ Accident and Emergency Departments; and
  • Increased customer service representatives.

“The public can feel sure that we are doing all that is within our power, given the current demand and within the bounds of available resources, to ensure timely access and quality care for our patients,” noted Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

Trinidad and Tobago – Ministry of Health responds to reports of Malaria

The Ministry of Health (MoH) acknowledges the recent media reports regarding the current case of Malaria at the San Fernando General Hospital. The MoH assures the public that, through the Insect Vector Control Division (IVCD), the Ministry has enhanced its surveillance and vector control activities in order to optimally manage this mosquito borne disease. The Inter-ministerial Committee on Malaria, established in 2018, has presented to Cabinet a National Malaria Action Plan. The activities undertaken by the agencies of the MoH are in alignment with this plan and include:   Surveillance activities –

  • Home visits by Public Health Inspectors and other health care professionals to continue the ongoing investigation of this current case.
  • Testing at-risk individuals using a blood smearing technique. This technique is the WHO recommended approach for testing suspected malaria cases.
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Mapping of both human cases and the mosquito (Anopheles) habitats.

Insect vector control activities-

  • Indoor Residual spraying, which will be conducted in the affected areas. This is the mainstay of Malaria vector control.
  • Ultra low volume spraying (truck mounted spraying), which will take place from the evening of Monday 24th December, 2018.
  • Mosquito surveillance for the Anopheles mosquito (Malaria is spread by the Anopheles mosquito).

This ongoing programme of the IVCD has been strengthened in response to regional increases in the prevalence of Malaria and the increased migration of persons from Malaria endemic regions.  

Personal Protection   Members of the public are asked to note that the Anopheles mosquito, which spreads Malaria, bites predominately at night between 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.   (The Aedes aegypti mosquito usually bites in the daytime (6:00 am to 6:00 pm). This mosquito spreads Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika). The public is reminded of the following personal protective measures for mosquito bite avoidance:

  • Use of mosquito repellents.
  • Use bed nets
  • Screen doors and windows.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Keep surroundings clean.

The MoH also continues to maintain strong partnerships with international and regional agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to ensure that our insect vector borne disease control, remains consistent with international best practice.