Australia – ACT – Update on measles in the ACT

The individual is in isolation at the Canberra Hospital and in line with the national guidelines, Health Protection Service staff are currently contacting people who have been in contact with the person.

Dr Kelly said this was the first case of measles to be notified in the ACT in 2019.

“We believe the individual is likely to have acquired the infection from the measles case reported in the ACT in mid-December,” Dr Kelly said.

“As the person did not attend any public venues or events in the ACT whilst infectious, we are advising the community that there is minimal risk of exposure to the general public.

“Contacts with the individual have been able to be identified and ACT Health staff are following-up with these people directly.

“As the individual travelled in NSW between Christmas and the New Year, we are working closely with NSW Health, who are also providing information to their local communities,” Dr Kelly said.

As Measles can be highly contagious among people who are not fully immunised, ACT Health is taking the opportunity to reiterate important health advice on measles and to know the symptoms. These include a fever, tiredness, cough, runny nose and sore eyes, followed up by a rash.

Anyone with symptoms of measles should seek medical advice, advising their health care provider before they arrive so that appropriate infection control precautions can be put in place to stop the spread of the infection.

People generally develop symptoms 7-18 days after being exposed to a person with infectious measles, with 10 days being more common. People are infectious from 4 days before they develop a rash until 4 days after.

The virus is spread from an infectious person during coughing and sneezing or through direct contact with secretions from the nose or mouth.

Whenever a case of measles is identified in our community, it is a strong reminder that the best way to protect yourself and your family against measles is vaccination.

Two doses of Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) are required for immunity against measles and are given to children in Australia at 12 and 18 months of age. However, the vaccine can be given at any age after 9 months.

With many travelling over the holiday period in the next few weeks, we are encouraging people to check their immunisation status and get up to date if needed before travelling.

For further information about measles, visit the ACT Health website.

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.  

Study – Big data and technology in disasters: Better integration needed for effective response

In a recent review article published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, a group of Johns Hopkins’ authors evaluated 113 studies using predetermined criteria with the final search taking place on May 1, 2017. Search terms were created in consultation with medical librarians and subject matter experts in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), big data, and disasters. Only articles that implemented ICT and big data tools in real life were considered. (Table 1).


Disasters are becoming more commonplace and complex, and the challenges for rescue and humanitarian organizations increase. Increasingly these groups turn to big data to help provde solutions. The authors wished to examine how ICT tools and big data were being used in disaster responses. By conducting a structured literature search and developing a data extraction tool on the use of ICT and big data during disasters they showed that some important gaps exist which should be part of a future research focus.
Credit : Copyright: © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2018.73

A data extraction tool was developed by subject matter and included the following items; first author and year, data type, disaster type, country. (Table 2).

The literature review identified some important gaps: more information is needed on the use of technologies. Most articles discussed the use of ICT in natural disasters which were mainly hurricanes and earthquakes. What was underreported was data on extreme temperatures and flooding, even though these events account for 27% and 26% of global deaths respectively.

Copyright: © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2018.73

According to first author Dr. Jeffrey Freeman, “Disasters are inherently a Big Data challenge, and with the ubiquitous nature of cell phones, the rapid spread of connectivity, and the rise of technologies like the Internet of Things, the challenge is only going to get bigger. In disasters, the key question we face today is how do we harness a growingly diverse and often chaotic wave of data and information. Simply put, we’ve got to handle more data than we’ve ever had, and do so more quickly and effectively than we’ve ever done before. Big Data and ICT pose a serious challenge in disasters, but they also hold promise for potential solutions. The answer to leveraging the massive amounts of data that ICT is creating is likely to be found within the very same technologies driving the Information Age. But we have to think creatively about adapting and adopting these technologies in emergency situations. Disasters leave little room for trial and error. The consequences are too great.”

According to Dr. Dan Barnett (coauthor on the paper) “As a researcher of public health emergency preparedness and response systems, I’ve watched closely as the rate of innovation has frequently outpaced adoption in this field. If we are to be effective in responding to disasters and other public health emergency situations, we need to do a better job figuring out how technology can be integrated into disaster response.

In embarking on this integrative literature review, we knew information and communications technology (ICT) was present in disasters, and we knew people were using related technologies, but we didn’t know much else. As researchers, we wanted to more clearly understand how Big Data applications and ICT solutions were being used, and more importantly, we wanted to know where things went right and where things went wrong. These kinds of insights can move the state of the science forward, and ultimately, allow us to achieve a more effective response to disasters.

Technology and disasters have had a tenuous relationship. For those of us in the field, there has been a growing recognition that technology holds promise for enabling disaster response, but we’ve also watched as even the most basic of technologies, like phone service and electricity, has been crippled during the acute phase of a disaster. Technology holds little value in disasters if unavailable when it’s needed most. If we can understand more clearly how people want to use Big Data and ICT in disasters, then we can focus our efforts on ensuring those technologies are resilient and reliable under any circumstances.”

UK – London – Firefighter goes to South Sudan to improve fire safety in refugee camps

A firefighter from Hornsey Fire Station volunteered to spend two weeks providing fire safety advice in South Sudan.

Watch Manager Kathryn Duncan joined a team of six volunteers from the UK who worked for the United Nation’s International Organisation for Migration to run ‘train the trainer’ courses for UN camp staff.

The team, which was in Sudan in late November, worked with the site staff to set up and train community safety groups in each camp. They will, in turn, provide fire safety advice and first aid to thousands of camp occupants.

athryn’s team also carried out a fire safety assessment of a large displaced persons camp that has 120,000 occupants living in makeshift accommodation within a very small area. The camp also contains schools, hospitals and markets, which all create a substantial fire risk.

Risk of fire

Kathryn said: “I believe we can make a real difference to the number of fire injuries and deaths within the camps. The training we are delivering in fire prevention and firefighting will significantly improve the response they currently provide.”

Kathryn’s trip was supported by charity Fire Aid, which provides donations of fire and rescue equipment, training and expertise to over 40 countries. Kathryn was approached to be a trainer by Women in the Fire Service, a charity that promotes a culture of equality of opportunity and supports all women in achieving their full potential within fire and rescue services.

Fire Aid were approached by the International Organisation for Migration in 2017 with a request for fire safety assessments of refugee camps in South Sudan. Two representatives of Fire Aid visited South Sudan in March this year and carried out a site visit of a large camp. The charity found there was a risk of fire due to the construction and layout of the camps. The charity also found there were no community fire safety awareness activities and a limited organised fire response.

UK – Cambridgeshire – Fire officer who has advocated for a fully-inclusive community and workplace receives royal honour

A Cambridgeshire fire officer has been awarded an MBE by Her MajestyThe Queen in the New Year’s Honours list.

Station Commander Farsh Raoufi has been recognised for services to the community, especially in relation to equality and inclusion, both in his role with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) and as a volunteer.

Farsh said: “I am truly humbled to be given such a prestigious award and I would like to thank Her Majesty The Queen for this honour.

“I am only able to do what I do with the support and dedication of some great people, in both CFRS and the wider community. It is very much a team effort and I am proud to be part of it and give back to the community.”

Farsh’s passion for serving the community stems from his treatment by the community when he arrived in the UK at the age of 14. Having fled Iran after the revolution, he journeyed alone via Russia to the UK. He was welcomed and was supported through school, despite speaking limited English, by a Polish family. He then spent time as a youth worker before joining CFRS in 1991.

Farsh has played a key role in promoting the understanding of Islam to staff as well as being an active member of the Service’s Equality and Inclusion Network. This has involved ensuring proper evaluation of fire risk in the communities and securing appropriate personal protective equipment and uniform for female operational staff. He has supported pride and LGBT groups within the Service and advocated transparency of promotion and transfer processes, including mixed recruitment and selection panels, which has helped to build an inclusive and diverse workforce.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland said: “I am delighted that Her Majesty The Queen has seen fit to honour Farsh. His service to the community, both with CFRS and as a volunteer, is something that merits such an award.

“Not only is Farsh an excellent fire officer, but his work in the community really sets him apart. Whatever challenge he faces, Farsh tackles it with enthusiasm and commits to bringing people together to get the best outcome. I, like the rest of the Service, am delighted that Farsh has been recognised for his contribution.”

Farsh quickly gained trust and respect as a practical, loyal and courageous firefighter, while also remaining true to his religious beliefs, actively role modelling to others, enabling them to feel more confident to be themselves in a traditional environment. This was personally challenging, especially when meeting the physical demands of his role whilst fasting for Ramadan.

Most recently as a community risk manager, Farsh has been based within the Safer Peterborough Partnership. He’s shown determination and drive to connect people from different areas and backgrounds and help communicate key safety information to vulnerable residents, resulting in a significant reduction of deaths and serious injuries in fires to members of BME communities in Peterborough. He has also recently been recognised as a Champion of Equality and Diversity at the annual Asian Fire Service Association.

Farsh has also volunteered for 17 years, acting as a role model and voice of reason to young people from different cultures. He has supported young people living in care and worked with the most persistent youth offenders to deliver education and life skills. He has provided advocacy for young people and vulnerable adults during police detention and interviews, helped to prepare for court hearings and provided translation services for police and other agencies. He has also worked as a Restorative Justice Facilitator, managing conflict by building relationships across communities.

Farsh concluded: “I am someone that is rarely lost for words, but to be recognised by Her Majesty for something I consider to be nothing more than my duty to the community, has me utterly speechless.”

NSW – One person dead, two hospitalised after music festival near Gosford

A man has died and two people are being treated after taking an unknown substance at a music festival west of Gosford yesterday.

The 22-year-old Queensland man was taken to Gosford Hospital about 8pm (Saturday 29 December 2018) but died a short time later.

Two other people, a man and a woman, remain in hospital being treated after ingesting an unknown substance and becoming sick after. They are reported to be in a stable condition.

An estimated crowd of 11,000 people attended the Lost Paradise Music Festival at Glenworth Valley, 20km west of Gosford, which started on Friday (28 December 2018), and continues until Tuesday 1 January 2019.

A total of 184 people and 97 vehicles have been searched during the police drug dog operation so far, with 50 people issued with Field Court Attendance Notices for drug possession. Seven cannabis cautions have been issued.

Three people have so far been charged with drug supply offences.

A 21-year-old man from Drummoyne has been charged after allegedly being found with 105 MDMA pills. He has been charged with supply of a prohibited drug (indictable quantity), and possession of a prescribed prohibited substance.

A 23-year-old man from Elanora Heights was allegedly caught with 80 MDMA pills and 65 bags of cocaine. He was also charged with supply of a prohibited drug (indictable quantity).

Both men are due to appear in Gosford Local Court on Friday 18 January 2019.

A 23-year-old man from Glendale was allegedly detected with 26 MDMA pills and was issued with a Field Court Attendance Notice for supply of a prohibited drug. He is due to appear in Gosford Local Court on Tuesday 5 February 2019.

The police operation continues on-site, and inquiries into the death of the man are on-going.

QC – Une aide financière gouvernementale pour 29 municipalités et leurs citoyens

Le gouvernement du Québec annonce que les sinistrés de 29 municipalités du Québec sont admissibles au Programme général d’aide financière lors de sinistres réels ou imminents en raison des inondations survenues du 22 au 26 décembre 2018 et pour les travaux de bris de couvert de glace réalisés du 22 au 27 décembre 2018.

Citation :

La sécurité des citoyens est notre priorité. C’est pourquoi le gouvernement du Québec aidera financièrement les administrations municipales qui sont intervenues rapidement pour réparer les dommages et assurer un retour à la normale. »

Geneviève Guilbault, vice-première ministre, ministre de la Sécurité publique et ministre responsable de la région de la Capitale-Nationale

Faits saillants :

  • Le Programme général d’aide financière lors de sinistres réels ou imminents vise à soutenir les municipalités, leurs citoyens et les entreprises qui ont été victimes d’un sinistre ainsi que les organismes ayant fourni aide et assistance lors d’un sinistre.
  • Ce programme constitue une aide de dernier recours, notamment pour réparer certains dommages aux résidences principales, aux entreprises et aux infrastructures municipales essentielles.
  • Il peut également servir à indemniser les municipalités pour les dépenses additionnelles aux dépenses courantes occasionnées par la mise en place de mesures préventives temporaires, de mesures d’intervention ou de mesures de rétablissement.

Report – Chronic Disease After Natural Disasters: Public Health, Policy, and Provider Perspectives

Chronic Disease After Natural Disasters: Public Health, Policy, and Provider Perspectives

Source:Columbia University, Earth Institute, National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP)

Date Published: 11/27/2018

Format: PDF

Annotation: The purpose of this 46-page report is to provide public and private stakeholders, especially at the state and local levels, with a resource to help them better understand and support the needs of individuals with chronic conditions, and the post-disaster burden on chronic diseases. It highlights the strengths and weaknesses that have been experienced or are anticipated in current approaches to this issue, and makes recommendations that include increasing the focus on the needs of these patients during the disaster recovery phase.

 URL:https://academiccommons.columbia.edu/doi/10.7916/D8ZP5Q23