TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: CARPHA on Ebola: The Caribbean could one day be at risk - EntornoInteligente / News day / As a result, this was the focus of much of their discussion yesterday at CARPHA’s 12th meeting of Caribbean National Epidemiologists and Laboratory Directors took place at the Hyatt Regency.

Dr Babatunde Olowokure, Director – Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA, said the spread of Ebola was rapidly changing, and could enter the region.

“Although the current risk assessment places the Caribbean at a low level, this may of course change as the situation was rapidly evolving. At CARPHA we continue to monitor the situation, but are also preparing for the possible introduction of Ebola Virus to the region,” Olowokure said.

The conference is a three-day meeting to look at the issues that are of public health importance.

Chikungunya and Ebola Virus are emerging diseases that Dr Olowokure said CARPHA needs to prepare their countries for, in emergency reaction, containing, treatment and response.

CARPHA is organising an expert consultation on Chikungunya to discuss the issue in October. Violence and injuries are also an issue that CARPHA intends to discuss.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Colin Furlonge, agreed with Dr. Olowokure, and said despite no cases of Ebola being in the country, it remains a serious threat, and precautions must be taken.

Speaking to the media after the event, Dr. Furlonge said, “I think the Ebola outbreak is a threat to us all, worldwide. For the security of all counties are at risk . . . Ebola is a very serious threat – even for countries that have not had any cases. In fact, the old adage, prevention is better than cure, we have to keep Ebola away from our doorsteps.”

Furlonge further said the country’s laboratory services were not up to par with international standards, which could cause a backlog in diagnosing people.

“Services like imaging, laboratory services are like support services. When you don’t have the functioning at that level, you have sometimes the delay in treatment of patients, you have patient spending time on the ward waiting for lab results. All these things in fact make healthcare costing even higher,” he said.

He said the labs across the country, both public and private, need upgrading.

“We need to do a lot of work on our labs. We need to bring them up to international standards. Our labs are not as adequate as we would like it. Like many of our institutions in our country they have been left behind in the past 25-30 years.

“Medicine, heathcare, laboratory services have moved forward tremendously over the past 20 years. So we need to bring them up to the 21st century, like many of the labs in the Caribbean. We are not behind any of those, but we need to bring them into the 21st century,” he said.

Furlonge, who spoke on behalf of the Health Minister, Dr Fuad Khan, said the meetings of CARPHA have helped to manage any disease outbreaks.

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