By Benjamin Flowers
This week the Caribbean Community engaged in discussions with regional and international organizations about how to manage the chikungunya outbreak and prepare for eventual cases of the Ebola virus within member states.
In late September, CARICOM Secretary General Irwin Larocque met with the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization and even the government of Brazil to discuss interventions such as vector control methods and public education campaigns.
Larocque, speaking of managing the chikungunya epidemic, said that the citizens of member states need to work along with these health organizations in getting the epidemic under control.
“One must recognize that the individual member states in our community have a tremendous responsibility to play in preventing the spread of the aedes aegypti mosquito,” Larocque said.
During the meeting, the organizations agreed that CARICOM member states need to do more in terms of complying with international health regulation, which help prepare countries for dealing with crises such as the Ebola threat.
They also agreed that the health sectors in member states need assistance with capacity building.
Managing the chikungunya epidemic and preparing for any incidents of Ebola are two of the primary concerns of health sectors within the region.
While there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in the region, countries such as Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas have had suspected cases which were later determined to be false.
Ebola is highly contagious, shown by the 5,800 reported cases in West Africa. The disease also has a high mortality rate, with 2,800 deaths within the past month.
Chikungunya, while it has a significantly lower mortality rate, has spread rapidly throughout the region causing nearly a million cases. However, there have only been 38 recorded deaths.
Last week, PAHO also met with the Organization of American States to discuss chikungunya and the Ebola virus.