Subscribe to Caribbean Medical News feed
Updated: 52 min 55 sec ago

T&T: Govt owing $4m to Cancer Society—Laquis

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 00:43

By Camille Clarke
Chairman of the T&T Cancer Society George Laquis said Government has not contributed funds to the organisation for the past two years and was currently owing some $4 million.

Laquis was speaking at the launch of the National Education Campaign at Republic Bank’s head office in Port-of-Spain. The theme of the campaign is “I Care Because Cancer Doesn’t.”

The programme will be taken to the nation’s schools in the next six months.

Laquis said he the organisation could not give up because Government was owing money to the organisation.

He said during the past two years the government has failed to pay the $2 million per year to the organisation despite repeated requests.

“We had no money for two years and we did not cut back our services and we are going onto the third year (without payment),” he said.

Laquis said the society’s budget is $6 million a year which is raised by sponsors and other stakeholders.

He said the mobile units were expensive, medicine and the equipment.

Laquis also called for a cancer registry and a treatment centre which he believes was long in the making and the responsibility of Government.

He said the data collected from the registry of deaths was inaccurate and backdated to 2009.

“The data is wrong and inadequate and only way we can collect data is to make it a reportable disease,” he said.

He said the names and identity of patients did not need to be given but just the information on treatment and if it worked.

Laquis said cancer was the second leading cause of death and through a change in lifestyles it could be prevented.

“Focus on the youths, educate them, change your lifestyle, change what you can and get it early,” he said.

He said the organisation’s home at Rosalino Street was in “tremendous” need of repair and they would hopefully be owners to a property along the Foreshore, Mucurapo.

However, Laquis said they were hoping to raise $30 to $40 million to build on the property if approved by Cabinet.

Contacted for a response, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he was unaware of the problem.

“I would have to check with Permanent Secretary, ministers don’t handle money. I would advise him (Laquis) to contact the Permanent Secretary who is the chief accounting officer,” Deyalsingh said. (Trinidad Guardian)

Medical university opens its doors in Barbados

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 00:30

By Deirdre Gittens
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — Last weekend, 17 student doctors donned their ceremonial white coats, marking not only their rite of passage into the profession of medicine, but also signifying them as the first group of students to enter the American University of Integrative Sciences (AUIS), School of Medicine at the campus’ new home in Barbados.

Founded in 1999, the AUIS was previously known as the University of St Eustatius School of Medicine, and was established on the island of St Eustatius by a group of medical school educators and administrators.

In 2013, the school came under new ownership and management, International Educational Management Resources LLC, based in Atlanta, Georgia, and led by managing director Milo Pinckney and president Renu Agnihotri.

Speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony this weekend to mark the official opening of the university’s Basic Sciences Facility, Dr Edward Layne, a gastroenterologist and native of Barbados, provided the background of the AUIS’ move to Barbados.

Layne, who served as the honorary consul for Barbados in Atlanta for the past 20 years before his retirement last December, was instrumental in paving the pathway for the institution’s move to Barbados.

“Two years ago, a young visionary entered my office, his name was Mr Milo Pinckney. He said to me, ‘Dr. Layne, I am not a doctor but I am the son of a physician entrepreneur with Caribbean roots’. He said ‘I am a businessman, who owns a medical school and have several patents in the field of medical technology’, and that in my opinion may be able to revolutionise the training of young doctors and the practice of medicine.”

He added that he was quite curious as Pinckney explained his interest in moving the university to Barbados and deploying a patented, medical information technology device called the Clinical Activity Rotation Log or CARL.

The device contains the templates for state-of-the-art training programmes that encompass traditional western medicine as well as the proven aspects of complementary and alternative medicine, now called CAM.

Admittedly impressed by what the young businessman had to say, Layne introduced him to the minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Senator Maxine McClean, while hosting the fourth biennial Barbados Comes to Atlanta event in May 2016.

Sharing his perspective of the experience, Pinckney explained that when he met McClean a year and a half ago, “in a moment’s notice” she saw the merit in what they presented when they proposed to move AUIS to Barbados.
“She embraced it with such vigour that she visited our offices in Atlanta to see first-hand what we were doing, and she said ‘I can get behind it’ and championed the move here…”

Highlighting Barbados’ literacy rate and the rank by the US Department of State as “one of the most politically transparent nations on the planet”, he believes Barbados has many unique qualities and presents tremendous opportunities for his institution.

“In our short tenure here, we have developed a great partnership with Senator McClean and Dr Layne, [who] facilitated our relocation. The growth of our institution and our contribution to the island of Barbados will come together entirely, so I thank you all for your support and most importantly, for your recognition of a quality programme and the opportunity for us to bring it here,” he said.

Similar to Layne, McClean admitted that, while attending the Barbados Comes to Atlanta event, which is intended to engage Barbadians in the diaspora to explore opportunities, she was enthralled by the opportunity Pinckney presented.

“I bought into the idea from the presentation, [which was] supported by a distinguished Barbadian in the form of Dr Layne, who himself has been a medical practitioner for many years, and would have been involved in the startup of another medical institution. I recognised I had to come back to the prime minister, and my Cabinet colleagues here in Barbados and share the opportunity.”

The minister of foreign affairs explained that convincing her colleagues was “not a hard task” as they all recognised the potential of the institution as it has been demonstrating its capacity to produce good students.

“It is my hope that given the importance of medical training and the demand globally for medical training, that there will be opportunities for synergies to be forged between our traditional medical faculties at the University of the West Indies and the programmes offered by the American University of Integrated Sciences,” she added.

Speaking to the incoming students gathered at the ceremony, McClean shared with them the benefits of the move.

“Being in Barbados gives you the opportunity to experience not only state-of-the-art medical training but the opportunity to live in a small society, which, in many respects, has demonstrated the capacity of a resource scarce nation to engage the world and to demonstrate that we are able to foster a level of development and quality of life that is of interest to other countries,” she said.

Caymanian man brought back to life after heart stops twice

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 00:24

Complicated 10-hour surgery saves Bjorn Ebanks’ life
CAYMAN ISLANDS — A 33-year-old Caymanian man is breathing again with a sigh of relief after the Health City Cayman Islands medical team brought him back from the brink of death.

Bjorn Ebanks’ heart stopped twice, and he underwent CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) for almost 90 minutes before being placed on advanced life support and undergoing emergency surgery to remove life-threatening blood clots in his lungs.

The surgical experience and skills of Dr Binoy Chattuparambil, Health City’s chief cardiac surgeon and senior cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon, saved Ebanks’ life with a procedure so difficult that fewer than 20 hospitals in the world are likely to have attempted it.

Ebanks arrived at the tertiary care facility in East End, Grand Cayman via ambulance. During the journey, he went into cardiac arrest. Resuscitation efforts were ongoing in the ambulance and while he was being brought into the Health City triage area.

As hospital emergency staff refused to give up on resuscitation attempts, Dr Binoy — as colleagues and patients call him — swiftly intervened, having just completed his morning rounds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Dr Dhruva Kumar Krishnan, a senior consultant in Cardiac Anesthesiology and Intensive Care at Health City, is also a certified American Heart Association Basic Life Support/Advanced Cardiac Life Support provider as well as an instructor.

Dr Krishnan, whose team conducts the BLS/ACLS classes at Health City, recalled the extensive resuscitation efforts: “We went on for close to 90 minutes. He did come back two times and then we sort of lost [him], so we continued the cardiopulmonary resuscitation and Dr Binoy walked in and he decided that we should try the ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation).”
Following a rapid transfer of the patient to the operating theatre, he was placed on ECMO life support, which involves channelling the patient’s blood into a roller pump that serves as the patient’s “heart”.

In response to his colleagues’ concern that it might be too late for ECMO in Ebanks’ case, Dr Binoy was confident: “I told them, if you are not doing it, it’s 100 per cent death, if you are doing it, then maybe one per cent … for that patient, it’s the only chance.”

With all hands on deck and team members performing heart massage to keep the patient alive during the procedure, Dr Binoy recalled that it was an adrenaline-charged and intense scene: “You should have seen the whole team … everyone is up in there doing the massage on one side while we instituted the ECMO to the groin, which took me about 20 minutes.”

The emergency team waited with intense anticipation as the ECMO machine did its work. Within five minutes, Dr Binoy was vindicated as the patient’s heart slowly resumed beating: “With the ECMO he was getting better, he stabilised and I shifted him to the ICU.”

Next, Dr Binoy sought to determine what had caused the young man’s heart to stop, and to find a solution. He enlisted the help of the patient’s loved ones in his investigation. “His parents and girlfriend … told us that for the last two weeks he had been very unwell, with shortness of breath,” which deteriorated to the point where he asked his girlfriend to call for an ambulance.

Dr Binoy quickly recognised the problem when the patient’s mother recalled that her son has been diagnosed with clots in his leg veins on two occasions — the first time in 2005 and again in 2008. After each diagnosis he was advised to take blood thinners for six months and then discontinue the medication.

With this new information in hand, Dr Binoy immediately ordered a CT scan, which revealed that blood clots were completely blocking both lung arteries. “There was absolutely no blood going to the lungs. So there was only one option: surgery again. From the CT scan room we took him immediately to the operating room … this surgery took almost 10 hours,” the surgeon explained.

The emergency surgery to remove the blood clots is a complicated procedure called a pulmonary endarterectomy, and involves putting the patient on a heart and lung machine. “We had to cool the body to 20 degrees centigrade. I had to drain all the blood from the body, open both lung arteries and remove the clots from both sides,” Dr Binoy recalled.

To allow the patient more time to recover, he was kept on ECMO for an additional 48 hours, which was needed because his brain did not initially respond well to the treatment. “But after five to six days he was perfect, there was no neurological deficit and he started walking after six days … lung pressure returned to normal, his heart became normal. And after two weeks we sent him home,” recounted Dr Binoy.

“I’m very happy about the outcome,” Dr Binoy said, “it’s kind of bringing him from the grave back to life … he is such a young man. It would have been very easy to say he had cardiac arrest and that after 45 minutes nothing more could be done. But we took that one per cent chance when we decided to put him on ECMO and decided to do the surgery.”

Dr Binoy expressed his joy at this slim chance of success being realised: “It might have been a one per cent chance then, but now the patient is 100 per cent. For the family they’ve got their son, their boyfriend back, so it’s very, very satisfying.”

Dr Binoy explained that the delicate and rare pulmonary endarterectomy procedure involves the use of very fine instruments for incisions and the removal of tiny clots from the lungs. “The learning curve for this procedure is very long. That’s why there are only 10 to 20 hospitals where it has been done in the entire world. But the surgery is so gratifying,” he said.

As one of the few surgeons worldwide with extensive experience in the intricate procedure, Dr Binoy noted: “I have been involved in at least 300 cases of this in India at the hospital where Dr Devi Shetty, one of the experts in this surgery (and Health City’s founder), was involved. I have seen a lot. I have seen young people, who are unconscious or who are bedridden or on home oxygen, and watched them going back home to their lives.”

Relieved at having a second chance at life, Bjorn Ebanks has only praise for his surgeon and for Health City: “Dr Binoy is a good doctor. He is one of the best I would say. Most doctors would probably have given up and said ‘alright I’m gone.’ This is a good facility, real good facility … people in here are good too and they treat you well … I’m just grateful that I am here and I can have another chance to see my family.”

The medical team was also emotional and overjoyed at Ebanks’ near miraculous recovery.

“Bjorn is extra special for us because we sort of pulled him out of nowhere … and he is a fighter, he came out of it. And I think it makes us very happy, to see people like him walk out of ICU and walk out of the hospital,” Dr Krishnan said.

As for Ebanks, he is looking to the future with a renewed sense of purpose: “God got some plan for me. I don’t know what is, but he got some plan for me.” (Jamaica Observer)

St. Lucia Open To Exploring Opportunities With Health City

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 16:07

Leading Caribbean tertiary care hospital Health City Cayman Islands has been credited by St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet with raising the bar for the future of health care in the Caribbean.

Chastanet, who visited the Cayman Islands this month to meet with medical professionals at the three-and-a-half-year-old facility, observed a streamlined experience benefiting patients and delivering results.

Overall, it is an incredible facility and, most important, the Prime Minister opined, it is integrated into the global health-care system. Citing the hospital’s partnership with Ascension, America’s largest faith-based hospital system and its accreditation by Joint Commission International, the Prime Minister was impressed to see radiology scans being read in real time by expert professionals a world away in India.

“The Cayman Islands and the northwestern region of the Caribbean are extremely lucky to have Health City serve them,” he said, adding that St. Lucia was hoping to adopt this cutting edge model of health care as the St. Lucia Government seeks to re-engineer its health-care system.

“We would like to have the same facility in St. Lucia to allow St. Lucians and people in the Eastern Caribbean access to the standards, experience and technology that’s being put into practice at Health City,” he asserted.

The Prime Minister was assured that Health City would support the work of existing medical facilities in St. Lucia. “We would like their team to come down to St. Lucia as soon as possible, meet with our medical officials, take a look at our health environment, as we explore the possibilities for a closer collaboration.”

Health City’s executive leadership is also interested in exploring opportunities for collaboration with St. Lucia and other nations in the Caribbean.

“We were extremely pleased to receive Prime Minister Chastanet at Health City,” said Dr. Chandy Abraham, CEO and Medical Director at Health City. “We have also been very impressed with the Prime Minister’s vision for the sustainable development of the Caribbean and look forward to working with him and his Government on how we can expand the provision of compassionate, high-quality, affordable health-care services to the people of the region in a world-class, comfortable, patient-centered environment,” he added.

Read more:

Barbados Lifts Ban on UK Poultry and Poultry Products

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 16:00

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday October 2, 2017 – Barbados’ ban on poultry and poultry products coming from the United Kingdom (UK) has been lifted.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, commercial importers and the general public are now free to import live birds, hatching eggs, and fresh, frozen and chilled poultry meat and products, including table eggs, from that territory.

The decision follows the UK’s declaration of freedom from the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza resulting in the lifting of a ban which was placed on these products last December.

As a result, importers may now apply to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services Department for permits to import poultry and poultry products from the UK.

“Commercial importers are reminded that all commercial shipments of live animals and animal products must be accompanied by an Export Health Certificate issued by the UK’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs,” the statement said.

In addition, a passenger meat import permit is needed for personal (passenger) imports of meat and meat products, which must be in their original packaging and bear an official inspection mark.

Passengers must also declare these items on arrival and present them to the agricultural quarantine inspector for examination.

However, persons are asked to note that a ban remains on the importation of poultry and poultry products from other countries in the European Union.

Read more:

Lawyer suggests laws could force vaccination compliance

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:32

Michelle Thomas, attorney-at-law in Jamaica, is recommending that the government of Antigua and Barbuda, consider enacting laws to strengthen vaccination compliance.

Thomas suggested on OBSERVER Radio yesterday that the twin island state should take a similar path as Jamaica where that country’s Public Health Act of 1974 was amended in 2013. According to the Act, charges not exceeding JMD $1 million or imprisonment not exceeding 12 months may apply to parents, health workers, and principals or operators of schools, for each child not adequately vaccinated.

“I think Antigua and Barbuda should follow suit. The legislators who are amending these acts, have to ensure that the penalties are just as high to ensure compliance. However, the sum of a million should be less,’ she said.

According to her, Jamaica now enjoys a high compliance rate for vaccination, as submission of immunisation cards is a must for admission to public and private schools.

“The alternative of vaccinate or pay a million dollars or spend time in prison, is very high, so, there is greater compliance. No matter if you are a Rastafarian, Hindu or a Christian everybody has to comply”, said the lawyer.

Thomas further stated that the only challenge the government of Jamaica faced with vaccination compliance was enforcing legislation in cases where children are home-schooled. That is a small number, she, however, noted.

Local Rastafarians are among those who oppose having their children vaccinated. They contend that being forced to be vaccinated is an infringement on their religious rights as a community.

Thomas suggested that compromise could be reached through extensive public education campaigns and meetings with the groups at which there are presentations by doctors and other professionals.
“Until these groups see the reality, that their child’s health is paramount, they will not yield to this programme. I know the Rastafarians in Jamaica are just as religious as anywhere, but they understand that sometimes, the government have to enact laws for the good governance of the people,” said Thomas.

“Their beliefs and rights have to be respected, but they must understand that religious rights have to be balanced against the health of their children.”

She said it is of great necessity that there is high vaccination compliance because children who are not vaccinated are exposed to a number of communicable diseases that can affect their growth and burden the health care system.

Coralita Joseph, former superintendent of public health nursing, agreed with Thomas stating that there should be more stringent measures to ensure everyone is vaccinated.

“We have always talked about putting in a law that covers all of the vaccines and all of the people who are supposed to get vaccine,” she said.

Joseph said the health department currently uses the education law, which makes it mandatory that no child is admitted to school without being vaccinated. She said, however, that law is not being enforced and children, who have not been vaccinated are still being admitted to private and public schools.

“We are doing the greatest good for the greatest number and the government should make sure they take that up and support the vaccination programme right up to that point … and that law should cover the entire nation.” (The Daily Observer)

Doctors and nurses from Barbados to assist Dominica

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:26

By Julia Rawlins-Bentham
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — Arrangements are being made to have doctors and nurses from Barbados travel to Dominica to provide much-needed assistance.

This is according to Dr Brian Charles, who is in Dominica to provide primary assessments for the health care services and the hospital there, and to work alongside the Barbadian military personnel. Dominica remains in a state of emergency after it was devastated by a category five Hurricane Maria on September 18.

Charles stated that there was an urgent need for artisans, medical and nursing personnel to provide much needed care for those requiring assistance.

“The [Princess Margaret] hospital has been badly damaged… it is about 70 percent destroyed, but it is running somewhat,” he stated.

However, he lamented the fact that the hospital’s accident and emergency department had very limited function, as the institution had no power, water, operating theatre, X-ray or CAT scan departments, laboratories or blood bank.

“Our appeal right now is for assistance to get those up and running soon,” he urged.

Charles reported that there were currently five people who needed to be medevaced from the hospital’s accident and emergency department.

“The French authorities have indicated that they will take them to Martinique. There is also one critically ill police officer who sustained major trauma that needs to be airlifted,” he said, while adding the needs of dialysis patients were also a cause for concern.

However, the physician noted that the Roseau Polyclinic was operational after sustaining minimal damage, while the Portsmouth and Marigot health centres were also functioning but with limited staff.

“We have been unable to reach any of the other health centres at this point,” he added, explaining that blocked roadways were hindering efforts to reach persons in remote areas.

Dominican Re-elected For Second Term as PAHO Director

Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:21

WASHINGTON, United States, Friday September 29, 2017 – Dominican-born Dr Carissa Etienne has been re-elected for a second five-year term as Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) by the member states of the organization.

Ministers of health meeting at the 29th Pan American Sanitary Conference voted unanimously to re-elect her. Her candidacy, which was not contested, was submitted by the government of her native country.

She will assume her second term as Director of the Pan American Sanitary Bureau, PAHO’s Secretariat, on February 1, 2018.

In her acceptance speech, Dr Etienne cited her “commitment to deliver to all of our peoples, from all walks of society, a long and productive life, with quality care into our senior years; access to quality health services without fear of impoverishment; access to medicines and vaccines that we can afford, including effective antibiotics; freedom from preventable diseases, with reduced exposure to disease vectors”.

She said access to sexual and reproductive health services; to healthy, nutritious food; and to clean water and adequate sanitation were important, along with safe refuge and adequate health care in the face of disasters and health emergencies.

“Action by the health sector alone will not be sufficient to achieve our objectives,” Dr Etienne said. “This is why, when I visit your countries, I meet with heads of state and officials from across other sectors. Looking beyond government, however, I am convinced that we must mobilize our partners in academia, civil society and the private sector to improve health.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had seen Dr Etienne’s leadership in dealing with Zika, hurricanes and emergencies and how swiftly she reacts.

During Etienne’s first term, the countries of the Americas achieved several important health milestones with PAHO’s support. These included the elimination of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome in 2015 and the elimination of measles in 2016. Countries also advanced in the elimination of neglected diseases including trachoma, Chagas disease, and onchocerciasis (river blindness) and the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. PAHO Member States also approved a regional strategy to achieve universal health, becoming the first WHO region to do so.

Under Etienne’s leadership, PAHO has supported Member States in coping with major epidemics, including Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever, as well as disasters that have ranged from hurricanes and catastrophic flooding to earthquakes and droughts.

The former Chief Medical Officer in Dominica began her first five-year term as PAHO Director on February 1, 2013, after being elected in September the previous year. Previously, from 2008 until 2012, she had served as assistant director-general for health systems and services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Prior to that post in Geneva, she was assistant director of PAHO from 2003 to 2008, in charge of five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr Etienne has led efforts to promote universal health coverage and renew primary health care to strengthen health systems to be more integrated and to function better. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.

Dr Etienne has been heavily involved in the struggle to help countries reduce the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases through efforts to combat obesity and curb the tobacco epidemic. She has also supported expansion of immunization programs in the Americas, and earlier this month accepted the Measles and Rubella Initiative Champion Award for PAHO’s work to eliminate measles and rubella from the Americas.

Read more:

New Tropical Storm Forms Behind Hurricane Irma

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 00:16

FLORIDA, United States, Tuesday September 5, 2017 – Even as the Leeward Islands prepares for the impact of a dangerous Category 5 Hurricane Irma, the 10th tropical storm of the 2017 Atlantic season has formed and based on current projections, it could impact that chain of islands as a hurricane as well.

The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) in Miami issued its first advisory on Tropical Storm Jose at 11 a.m., at which time it was about 1,505 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and moving west northwest at 13 miles per hour.

“A movement toward the west or west-northwest at a slightly faster rate of forward speed is expected during the next two days. Maximum sustained winds are near 40 mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours and Jose could become a hurricane by Friday,” the NHC said.

It advised interests in the Leeward Islands to monitor the future progress of Jose.

However, no watches or warnings have been issued as yet.

Read more:

Future St Kitts-Nevis vaccine trials will follow FDA guidelines

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 00:09

By Ken Richards
The herpes vaccine company, whose offshore trial in St Kitts and Nevis sparked an ethics backlash, has promised that future testing will follow US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidelines.

Rational Vaccines conducted a clinical trial for its herpes vaccine in St Kitts and Nevis in 2016 without oversight by the FDA or another traditional body.

Critics in the medical community in the United States and elsewhere said it was unethical for Rational Vaccines to run such an unmonitored clinical trial.

The St Kitts and Nevis administration says it was not aware that the herpes vaccine trial had been conducted in the federation, and the ministry of health says the matter is being investigated.

The trial is reported to have taken place between April and August of last year.

Former chief medical officer Patrick Martin, who went on pre-retirement leave in June 2016, said didn’t know about the trial.

“It is a fact that there was a trial taking place, as a matter of fact two trials were taking place around the same time, stem cells and herpes vaccine, I was not aware of both of them. How come? I guess the investigation the ministry of national security is undertaking, according to the release for the ministry of health will unearth those details,” Martin said.

WINN FM asked if both trials were linked.

“Well they occurred in St Kitts, they involved medical experiments, the stem cell experiment was known to a number of persons inside and outside of the Ministry of Health except the office of the CMO which ought to have known about it. And judging from some of the internet posts and Facebook posts it appears as though some people ought to have known about the herpes trial also,” Martin said.

He replied, “Absolutely not!” when he was asked if he knew about the trials.

Martin has promised to cooperate with the investigation, if he is asked to assist that probe.

“It’s country above self, I don’t have to be asked I put out a statement before being asked so that sends a message that I am available,” he said.

The vaccine was developed by the late university professor William Halford.

Bermuda to tackle hepatitis transmission

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 07:54

By Lisa Simpson
Methods used to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Bermuda could be used to tackle other diseases such as hepatitis.

Bermuda announced this month that it had reached the milestone of elimination of HIV and syphilis in newborns — one of only a handful of countries to do so.

Ministry of Health assessment officer Dy-Juan DeRoza said the target was achieved owing to teamwork between different parts of the health service — and that hepatitis transmission could be the next condition on the hit list.

She added: “We are looking at how the systems work together, including the human rights element, and looking at how we can eliminate other diseases and how we can work together to ensure that these diseases stay eliminated and even to monitor and track other diseases throughout the region.

“It adds emphasis to the importance of the development of information systems for health and greater collaboration throughout the health system.”

The elimination confirmation process was started by the Department of Health in 2015 under the guidance of the Pan-American Health Organisation.

The process needed extensive reviews of documentation, tracing and verification, as well as a programme of spot-checking the relevant population by the island’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

Validation was then given by the Global Validation Advisory Committee.

Ms DeRoza said: “Getting validation further proves that this type of collaboration can work and is effective and they have decided to expand this to a few other diseases.”

In achieving elimination of mother-to-child transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and syphilis, Bermuda joined Cuba, where EMTCT for HIV and syphilis was confirmed in 2015.

Belarus in Eastern Europe and Thailand followed in 2016. Armenia has eliminated HIV transmission to babies, while Moldova has done the same with syphilis.

Chief Medical Officer Cheryl Peek-Ball said: “The validation process is what is so rigorous about this and what makes the achievement so important.

“What we knew clinically was the case from our experience over the last 25 or so years is one thing.

“But being validated is a scientifically, statistically more significant designation and you do have to jump through hoops to prove that you would know if you are missing HIV-positive babies or HIV-positive mothers.

“You have to prove that you have the health system finely tuned enough to catch people who might go under the radar for whatever reason, because of lack of information, fear, stigma or other things that would keep people from coming to healthcare attention.”

Ms DeRoza said the island result was a team effort and involved the Bermuda Hospitals Board and island laboratories.

The Ministry of Health effort also involved private obstetricians and paediatricians to ensure all of the treatment and testing rules were followed. Ms DeRoza said there was also a human rights component and they had to look at sexual and reproductive rights, as well as confidentiality and privacy issues.

Department of Health HIV/Aids co-ordinator Kimberley Ball added: ”The validation means we have done a great job in prevention, treatment and health promotion. And people are adherent.

“I think it says that our population does trust what we do as far as teaching them to be healthy, giving them the treatment that is up-to-date and current.

She added: “I think we are also able to track a bit better than some of the other UK territories. People are less likely to go under the radar.”

Dr Peek-Ball said one of the best outcomes of the whole process were the recommendations made by the validation committee on areas that could be improved.

These included modernising legislation from a human-rights standpoint “to ensure that we are not driving individuals away from being tested because of harsh legislation, so that people are motivated to be tested rather than hide the possibility of being HIV positive.”

Dr Peek-Ball added good access for teens to health information services was also highlighted, while improving protection around personal health information was an “ongoing effort”.

And she said the achievement highlighted the importance of strong disease surveillance systems and communication among the health service.

Dr Peek-Ball added: “Now that we’ve reached validation, what’s really important is to sustain that and keep the communications systems and the surveillance systems as robust as possible.”

Regional and international HIV experts convene in Barbados

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 07:44

SPEIGHTSTOWN, Barbados — Regional and international HIV experts have been tasked with developing strategies to engage the Caribbean on the “treatment as prevention” approach to HIV care which will put the region on track to end the AIDS epidemic.

The challenge came during the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Cytometry & Analytical Society’s (CCAS) expert summit, “From Care to Cure – Shifting the HIV Paradigm”. The summit is being held in Speightstown, Barbados from August 27 to 31.

“We know we are on the brink of being able to eliminate the AIDS epidemic,” said Professor Clive Landis, CCAS chairperson. “However, there is a gap between what we, the HIV experts know, and what the public knows. The public is still terrified of this disease and sees it as a death sentence. We have to challenge misconceptions and the fear that is driving stigmatizing attitudes of people living with HIV.”

“Treatment as prevention” is an approach to HIV treatment which forms the basis of a global commitment to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is hinged on the finding that diagnosing and treating people early and lowering the level of the virus in their blood to undetectable levels (viral suppression) virtually eliminates the risk that they will transmit HIV to other people.

HIV treatment best practice now calls for people to start treatment immediately after being diagnosed, regardless of how far the illness has progressed. Treating people living with HIV fully so that they achieve viral suppression not only keeps them healthy, but dramatically reduces their infectiousness.

UNAIDS Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Dr César Núñez, noted that through the 2016 Political Declaration on ending AIDS, United Nations members states have agreed to adopt a Fast-Track strategy that involves increasing prevention, testing and treatment services while working to eliminate stigma and discrimination.

Central to this goal are the 90-90-90 treatment targets — 90% of people living with HIV knowing their status, 90% of diagnosed people on treatment and 90% of people on treatment with an undetectable viral load. However, countries’ ability to achieve these targets will depend on the success of their work with partners including civil society to remove barriers to ensure that no one is left behind.

“People continue to get diagnosed late or die due to AIDS-related causes when testing and treatment services are available. Our reality is that the potential impact of game-changing scientific advances is being undermined by ignorance, fear, shame, prejudice and exclusion,” Núñez said.

Núñez called for partnerships to conduct more research on Caribbean HIV epidemics including epidemiological surveillance, sero-prevalence and key population studies. This, he said, would help countries better respond to the unique characteristics of their epidemics. He further called for strategies to address the specific vulnerabilities of young people, men, women, migrants, men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people who use drugs, prisoners and homeless people.

The opening ceremony’s distinguished speaker, Dr Deanna Kerrigan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, shared the findings of a study involving female sex workers living with HIV in the Dominican Republic. Kerrigan noted that stigma and discrimination, violence and substance abuse negatively impacted the sex workers’ treatment outcomes. However, these challenges could be addressed through a multifaceted approach that combined psycho-social support, activities that encouraged solidarity and supportive government policies.

Over the four days, the “Care to Cure” summit will explore other strategies to maximize the impact of HIV treatment, particularly among key populations.

“Fear and stigma rule hearts and minds, blocking people form learning their status and blocking them from getting and staying on treatment. If we recast the public health message and give people clear information, attitudes can turn around,” said Landis.

The Caribbean Cytometry & Analytical Society (CCAS) is a registered HIV Charity comprised of volunteers from the University of the West Indies, the Barbados Ministry of Health and the private sector. The mandate of the CCAS is to train and educate healthcare providers for improved diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean region by removing technical and social barriers to care. CCAS’s annual HIV/AIDS regional workshop rotates through the region and has trained more than 1,250 HIV/AIDS specialists from over 20 countries. (Caribbean News Now)

Exposure to second-hand smoke is as dangerous as smoking – PAHO/WHO Rep

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 00:41

There is no risk-free level of exposure to second-hand smoke. This is according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention [CDC], which has been able to deduce that second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which hundreds are toxic, and about 70 can cause cancer.
Essentially, second-hand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers into the atmosphere.
The harsh reality is that non-smokers exposed to cigarette smoke are in as much danger, if not more, than what smokers are exposed to. This state of affairs was recently amplified by local Representative of the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation [WHO], Dr. William Adu-Krow.
Dr. Adu-Krow pointed out that “If you make a conscious decision that you want to smoke, that is different from someone who has not made that decision, but you are forcing that person to make that decision, because you are smoking in their presence.”
It is for this reason, Dr. Adu-Krow underscored, that the recently passed Tobacco Control legislation is designed to outlaw smokers’ privilege to smoke in areas where it can affect others who are non-smokers.
Many smokers have shared their objection about moves towards the implementation of the Tobacco Control legislation. Some have surmised that since they are going to die by some means, whether they continue to smoke or not, moves should not be made to prevent them from doing so freely.
But according to the PAHO/WHO Representative, smoking will essentially help to speed up the process up and added to this, if it is done in the presence of others, their lives will also be at risk.
“A lot of them like to say ‘I will die anyway, so let me smoke’ If you want to fast-track your death, why do you take medication when you become sick? Some people even go to the ‘obeah’ man to get help when they are sick because they do not want to die. We all know that we will die, but nobody really wants to fast-track it by smoking,” Dr. Adu-Krow emphasised.
When it comes to second-hand smoke, the PAHO/WHO Representative explained that a smoker can affect others in the environment simply by putting his hands with a lighted cigarette out of the window of a moving vehicle.
“The finer particles that linger on during the flaming phase of the cigarette [and the smoke exhaled by the smoker] that is what we [non-smokers] inhale, and that is worse,” Dr. Adu-Krow amplified.
According to the CDC, since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, millions of adults who were non-smokers have died because they breathed second-hand smoke. But it isn’t only adults who are affected, since the CDC has revealed too that second-hand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Added to this, smoking during pregnancy has been known to result in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually, according to CDC. The body has also found that some of the health conditions caused by second-hand smoke in adults include coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.
Given the wide-reaching and very daunting impact of cigarette use, the PAHO/WHO Representative stressed the need for deliberate efforts to be made to control the impact of cigarette use.
Even as he amplified the need for youths to be especially targeted, Dr. Adu-Krow stressed that, “the numbers are clear, the youths are smoking too. Some youths start smoking as early as seven years and, there are some who are smoking 20 cigarettes per day or more. That’s in the minority, but that is still a scary thing,” he added.
He noted that while many youths may see smoking as merely a social practice or a way for them to be viewed as appealing to their peers, there are in fact health consequences. “Everyone [young people] may want to smoke something and feel on top of the world, but some of them think that they can smoke, and whenever they are ready they can kick the habit. Unbeknown to them the tobacco companies, when it comes to the nicotine aspect of it, have been fine-tuning it to get them addicted earlier,” said Dr. Adu-Krow.
Cigarettes are known to be addictive because they contain tobacco. In fact, according to reports, there are many other harmful chemicals in cigarettes that are known to damage many parts of the body. According to Dr. Adu-Krow, while quitting can help to reverse or at least stop the progression of the damage that cigarette smoke can cause, young people may find it difficult to quit.
He considered that based on a study done between 2012 and 2017, there is a clear indication that the young brain is more inclined to become addicted than the adult’s.
“They think they are young and they are not vulnerable, but that’s not the case…the [tobacco] companies know this and they thrive on this, they say ‘let’s get them young and let’s get them hooked for life.”

BARBADOS: Medical schools in war of words

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 00:27

CONFLICT IS BREWING between the two offshore medical schools in Barbados.
The three-month-old Washington University of Barbados (WUB) is accusing the American University of Barbados (AUB), which has been operating here for six years, of engaging in a smear campaign against WUB and “stealing” its students.
The AUB has denied the claims and said its sole focus was on enhancing the school’s brand and promoting Barbados.
An upset Gopi Venkat, chief executive officer of WUB, which is located at Casa Grande Hotel, St Philip, said that since a video surfaced three weeks ago of their former dean complaining about certain situations at the school, messages had been circulating on social media bearing the name of an official of the AUB and carrying its logo, saying that WUB was a fake medical school. (MB) Nation News

BAHAMAS: Dr. Sands Provides Update on Stem Cell Research

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 00:15

by Jones Bahamas
A subject that caused quite the controversy, yet Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said when it comes to stem cell research here in the country nothing much has changed, but if need be, the right avenues will have to be followed.
In an interview with The Bahama Journal yesterday, Dr. Sands said things are still in order as far as he is concerned.
“The Okyanos facility was sold to another parent company. They have continued to do their work and they have been in conformity with the requirement of the stem cell body which has had oversight responsibility,” he said.
“The question now is whether or not the new parent copay is interested in introducing in any new clinical services.”
If that company wishes to change anything, he said, it would have to get the correct approvals from the Ethics Oversight Committee.
“It depends on the nature and safety of what it is that they are proposing to do. They may simply continue with the series they already have approval for, but I expect that they would want to expand their scope,” Dr. Sands said.
“The purpose of the Ethics Oversight Committee is to ensure safety for the patients and the public and also for the reputation of The Bahamas.”
Dr. Sands said he served on the committee that formulated the rules of stem cell services in The Bahamas.
He further added that his views have also been incorporated in the current guidelines which took place sometime back in 2013.
In August of last year, Med Cell Bahamas Ltd. was given approval by The Bahamas National Stem Cell Ethics Committee to conduct stem cell research and operate the country’s first ever stem cell research lab.
An initial $4 million was invested for the attainment of laboratory and storage equipment as well as the recruitment of some seven to 10 employees.(The Bahama Journal)

Doctor who was raped while on holiday in St Lucia believes her attacker will never be caught

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 00:38

By Luke Powell
Mother-of-two Georgina Mortimer had booked a 10-day stay on the Caribbean island in February last year with an all-female sailing school.
But on the second night of her trip, she endured a horrific assault which took place in the room of her villa at Rodney Bay.
The 46-year-old, who grew up in Norwich, woke up in complete darkness to find a man with his hand around her throat, raping her.
Eighteen months on and the events of that night still haunt the former City of Norwich School pupil.
But she has waived her right to anonymity to highlight what she claimed to be a sub-standard response from St Lucian authorities.
Mrs Mortimer travelled to island in 2016 with the aim of learning to sail.
The Oxford University graduate had been staying in a villa provided by the company Girls For Sail, which is based on the Isle of Wight.
But on the night of February 6, she was raped in her room after returning from a street carnival.
Mrs Mortimer, who now lives in Hertfordshire, where she works as a doctor, said: “I was woken from a deep sleep and there was a man on top of me with his hand arched around my neck.
“It was one of those things where you can’t believe it is actually happening, it was terrifying.
“I was thinking about all of the people I loved and thought that I was going to be snuffed out.”
“But when something like that happens you have this laser-like focus on survival.
“I felt that the only thing I had to do was to not fight this person, because I was only just getting enough air into my lungs.
“I was saying to him that I couldn’t breathe.”
She said was saved when another man knocked on the door to her bedroom after hearing that she was struggling to breath.
As he opened the door, the attacker ran out of the room and fled the scene.
But her ordeal was far from over.
After going to hospital for further examinations, police asked her to return to the
scene of the attack to provide a statement.
Bizarrely, Mrs Mortimer claimed it was done so in the presence of the police officer’s four-year-old daughter.
“The response from authorities was just woeful,” Mrs Mortimer said.
“I was told in June [2016] that police had still not processed my DNA samples because there was no lab on the island.
“They then said there was no point processing it until they had DNA from the suspect.”
Mrs Mortimer, whose surname has been changed to protect her identity, said she eventually heard that the samples had been tested, but was told no DNA evidence was found.
“As far as I am concerned, that is inconceivable,” she added.
“But the way the police were out there, they were so useless and I just thought from the beginning it was not going to happen.
“As soon as I started doing research, I found there were lots of unsolved crimes.
“I don’t think for a second they will catch the man who attacked me.”
On her return back to the UK she was required to take a 28-day course of medication to stop any potential spread of HIV.
But she had to wait a further three months to find out that she was all clear.
Speaking about the impact it had on her life, Mrs Mortimer said: “It was horrendous having to go back to work.
“I still feel nervous coming into my house when I get back and I lock my bedroom door if I am home on my own.“
Her story comes just months after Norwich widow Margaret Pratt revealed that she was still fighting for justice after her husband, Roger, was murdered on the island in January 2014.
Now, Mrs Mortimer has taken part in a round table discussion with Mrs Pratt to warn other holiday-makers about the dangers of travelling to the country.
She said: “I don’t think it [the Foreign and Commonwealth Office page] gives an idea of the gravity of the risks for tourists travelling to the country.
“This is an island that relies on tourism for its income. The island needs those tourist dollars which is why crime is swept under the carpet.”
“The last thing I would want to do is malign the general population of St Lucia because I was treated very kindly by the staff at the hospital.”
• Have you been the victim of crime in St Lucia? Email
(St Lucia Online)

New Initiative to Eliminate Mother-to-Child Transmission of Four Diseases

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 00:30

Every year, an estimated 2,100 children in Latin America and the Caribbean are born with HIV or contract it from their mothers; 22,400 are infected with syphilis; some 9,000 are born with Chagas disease; and 6,000 contract the hepatitis B virus. If not detected and treated in time, these infections can cause miscarriages, congenital malformations, neurological and heart problems, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and in some cases, even death.

To end mother-to-child transmission of these four diseases by 2020, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has launched the Framework for Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and Chagas (EMTCT-PLUS), a roadmap with strategies and interventions that target women before and during pregnancy, as well as new mothers and their babies.

“The new framework is an opportunity to integrate and redouble efforts to diagnose and treat pregnant women during prenatal check-ups to prevent miscarriages, fetal malformations, and deaths from syphilis and to keep children from being infected with diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, or Chagas disease, with serious long-term health consequences,” said Suzanne Serruya, director of PAHO’s Latin American Center for Perinatology (CLAP).

Since 2010, Latin American and Caribbean countries have been working to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis as public health problems through the Strategy and Plan of Action for Elimination of Mother-to-child Transmission (EMTCT) of HIV and Congenital Syphilis, coordinated by PAHO. Since then, the countries have managed to reduce new infections in children by 55 per cent, from 4,700 to 2,100 between 2010 and 2015, preventing some 28,000 children from being infected with HIV.

Building on the success of this initiative, PAHO created the EMTCT-PLUS framework, which integrates efforts to end mother‑to‑child transmission of Chagas disease and hepatitis B into the well-established platform.

To reduce mother-to-child transmission of these four diseases to a minimum, the PAHO initiative proposes universal screening of all pregnant women, a policy that every country in the Region and the world has adopted for the diagnosis of HIV and syphilis though not yet for Chagas disease and hepatitis B.

As of 2016, the 51 countries and territories in the Americas had included hepatitis B in their official vaccination schedules, with a dose of the vaccine administered at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. Furthermore, 21 countries (whose populations account for 90 per cent of the region’s live birth cohort) have included a dose of the hepatitis B vaccine for newborns in their vaccination schedules. Regional vaccination coverage of the three-dose series is estimated at 89 per cent, and coverage of the dose for newborns, at 75 per cent. The success of vaccination programs in the Americas suggests that the elimination of perinatal and early childhood transmission of hepatitis B is feasible. However, access must be expanded to ensure that the vaccine reaches at least 95 per cent of children, beginning with a dose for newborns in first 24 hours of life.

Up to now, the fight against Chagas disease has focused on vector control, environmental clean-up, and the screening of blood for transfusions. However, the next step toward eliminating this disease as a public health problem is to focus on preventing mother-to-child transmission, which currently accounts for roughly one‑third of new infections. An estimated 1.12 million women of reproductive age in the Region are infected with T. cruzi, the parasite that causes the disease. The EMTCT-PLUS framework urges that all pregnant women be screened, and that the babies of those who test positive be tested and treated, as well as mothers after delivery.

“We want the next generation to be free not only of HIV and syphilis but of Chagas disease and hepatitis B as well,” said Marcos Espinal, director of PAHO’s Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis. “We have cost‑effective tools for preventing children from being infected by their mothers, but we need these measures to reach everyone who needs them.”

Read more:

Discovery of Green Deep-Sea Sponge Shows Promise for Cancer Research

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 00:16

A golf ball-size sponge discovered in the deepest, darkest ocean areas off Alaska holds promise in developing new treatments for pancreatic cancer, according to biomedical researchers.

Teams at the Medical University of South Carolina and Henry Ford Cancer Center in Detroit — who specialize in studying chemical samples from the ocean ecosystem — studied a sample of green sponge (Latrunculia austini) discovered by NOAA scientist Bob Stone during a fisheries survey in 2005.

Upon examination, the cancer researchers uncovered molecular compounds effective at selectively targeting and killing tumor cells.

Compared to its dazzling deep-sea coral neighbors, the green Latrunculia austini sponge is pretty drab. Dotted with craters and pitted by deep holes the golf-ball sized sponge is curious-looking rather than beautiful. But green Latrunculia’s unique chemical composition holds a promise much greater than mere beauty.

“You’d never look at this sponge and think this is a miracle sponge, but it could be,” said Stone, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

By the time Stone found the sponge, his groundbreaking research in Alaska had already intrigued leading biomedical researcher Mark Hamann, the Charles and Carol Cooper SmartState Endowed Chair at the Medical University of South Carolina. Hamann has studied marine life to develop drug leads for more than 20 years. While Hamann explores the ocean in search of rare natural compounds, he also constantly monitors publications for other scientists’ discoveries, which led him to Stone.

After the green sponge was discovered, it quickly became a focal point of this global collaboration. Stone and Hamann worked with Michelle Kelly, a world expert on sponges, to name and identify Latrunculia austini.

Hamann and his team determined that the sponge “covers unique and unprecedented chemical space. The structures of the molecules are not related to anything you would find on land or even in tropical shallow-water marine environments.”

Hamann sent samples of the molecules to researcher Fred Valeriote, senior researcher with the Henry Ford Cancer Institute. Scientists there are doing cutting-edge cancer research and grow tumor cells, allowing them to study the cells and test new drug leads in a controlled environment.

Valeriote exposed the pancreatic cancer cell line to a sample from the green sponge extract. The lab test revealed that the green sponge extract had anti-cancer activity, or the ability to kill pancreatic cancer cells.

“On average, less than one in 100 sponge extracts will present the anti-cancer activity that we observed with the green sponge in our lab. It’s a promising initial step forward in developing new treatments for pancreatic cancer,” said Valeriote. “Given the lack of current effective drug treatments available for pancreatic cancer, this study finding offers hope for the future of cancer care.”

He explained that pancreatic and ovarian cancers are generally slow-growing tumors. He said late detection is one reason why these cancers are so deadly, but another factor is that chemotherapy is not effective against slow-growing tumors. As a result, even in its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate for the most common type of pancreatic cancer is about 14 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.

That’s why the green sponge, with its unique discorhabdin compounds, is so exciting to researchers.

“This is absolutely the most active molecule against pancreatic cancer that we have ever seen. Although a significant amount of work remains, this type of activity and selectivity is the key first step in the discovery and drug development process,” Hamann said.

Scientists at the University of Hawaii are working to synthesize the green sponge’s molecules. Synthesizing naturally-derived drugs is normally attempted after a drug proves its effectiveness because the work is challenging and expensive. But because there are hurdles to obtaining the green sponge in nature researchers are working toward synthesizing its molecules now. (NOAA)

Read more:

Jamaica: Abandoned bodies increase Kingston Hospital woes

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 00:18

By Erica Virtue
The Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) is making a desperate plea for relatives of deceased persons abandoned at the facility to collect the bodies.
“There is a list that’s going to be published in The Sunday Gleaner of persons who die who we can’t find the relatives. Not only is the hospital’s morgue full, but we had to pay contractors to keep the bodies and pay additional storage for these persons,” said chief executive officer of KPH, Errol Greene.
He noted that the hospital is spending millions of dollars to pay the private funeral homes. Last year, KPH paid out $3.6 million to these private entities and $2.2 million up to the end of June this year.
Now, Greene said, the hospital will be trying its best to get relatives to come for the bodies.
“We have buried unclaimed dead in the past after following all the procedures and after a long time of trying to find relatives. What we have found is that, in some instances, some relatives do not know that their loved ones are in hospital much more that they have died.
“So I have instructed my staff … let us go the extra mile, because we run the risk of a year, 18 months, or even five years from now, you find a relative who comes back from foreign and say I need to know where my relative was buried,” said Greene.
“So advertising now is to make sure that we go the extra mile to notify everyone,” added Greene.
He told our news team that hospital administrators have found that many relatives have been deceptive when registering patients.
“The problem is compounded by relatives who turn out to be ghosts. When we need to find these persons, no one knows anyone with that name at the addresses given, and sometimes the address itself does not exist,” said Greene.
The KPH head noted that the hospital has used the services of the police to track down relatives in the past, but this has also been unsuccessful.
According to Greene, in some instances, relatives of the deceased have tried to pit the hospital against other relatives, dishing out instructions as to who should get death certificates, especially in matters where insurance policies are concerned.
“That is not our role. We simply want relatives to claim their dead, while at the same time doing the right thing to protect ourselves legally,” said Greene.
In an advertisement published today, KPH said it is trying to find relatives of Shawn Spencer, 42, of 7 Oxford Road, Kingston 5, who died on July 27; Noel Green, 71, of 5 Valley View Road, Stony Hill, who died July 24; and Simon Malcolm, 23, of 37 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5.
The address the hospital was given for Spencer is a commercial property in New Kingston while the Beechwood Avenue address given for Malcolm has not housed any residential buildings for years.
In the meantime, KPH continues to struggle with overcrowding, with persons abandoned at the hospital making matters worse.
When our news team visited the downtown Kingston-based hospital last Wednesday, it was housing 495 patients despite having a capacity of 475.
Director of Nursing Services at the hospital, Joan Walker Nicholson, pointed to the almost empty waiting area and the small number of persons in the triage area as she noted that this was a good day.
However, Walker Nicholson underscored that the situation could change dramatically in minutes.
“Things change very quickly here,” said Walker Nicholson, as she added that the empty waiting areas can be very deceptive.(JAMAICA GLEANER)

CARPHA issues ‘Red Eye’ alert for Region

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 00:14

Over recent months, conjunctivitis has been plaguing sections of the country, but from all indications the situation is farther reaching.
This is according to information issued by the Trinidad and Tobago-headquartered Caribbean Public Health Agency [CARPHA]. According to CARPHA, several Caribbean islands have reported outbreaks of conjunctivitis at health facilities and medical practices. As such, CARPHA has issued a ‘red eye’ alert for the Caribbean Region.
Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the membrane covering the whites of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. The congestion of blood vessels in this membrane gives rise to a reddened appearance and explains the more common names “red eye or pink eye”.
The most common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses, bacteria, and allergens. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person.
“The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is currently monitoring the situation and we want to urge persons to take the necessary precautions to prevent and reduce the spread of this illness,” said Dr. Virginia Asin-Oostburg, CARPHA’s Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control.
Eye symptoms can include: redness; irritation; itchiness; production of excessive tears; clear or yellow discharge that may make the eyelids stick together, especially in the mornings and swelling of the eye lids.
But the risk of getting conjunctivitis or spreading it to someone else can be reduced.
As such, CARPHA has advised members of the public to practice some simple good, hygiene steps including: avoid close contact with persons who are ill with conjunctival symptoms; keep unwashed hands away from face and eyes; wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
Alternatively, persons may use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer; avoid sharing personal items, such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye makeup, face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses and, contact lens containers, or eyeglasses and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in common areas, (for example doorknobs and counter-tops in shared spaces).
According to information out of CARPHA, individuals who are infected should altogether avoid using makeup and applicators, (for example brushes and sponges). Also, if infected, persons should wash hands well before and after cleaning, or applying eye drops or ointment into their infected eye[s].
Once the infection goes away, it is important to avoid re-infection by: discarding disposable contact lenses and cases used while the infection persisted; discarding extended wear lenses or, at the least, sterilise as directed by an eye-care professional. It is also advisable that following an infection an individual’s eyes are examined by an eye care professional before beginning to use contact lenses again. Persons are also encouraged to clean eyeglasses and cases that were used while infected.
CARPHA in its advisory has urged persons to access more information on the condition from their local health clinics or their general practitioner.
Here in Guyana an increase of ‘red eye’ since earlier this year was recorded at a number of health facilities across the country. In commenting on the situation, Deputy Chief Medical Officer [DCMO], Dr. Karen Boyle, described it as a seasonal viral infection. She acknowledged that while reports of an increase of the condition are factual, the situation had not reached worrying proportions.
There were, however, confirmed reports that several health facilities, both private and public, t were hard-pressed to treat the condition.
Checks by this publication had revealed that some health facilities had no treatment to offer to a number of patients afflicted with the condition. They were however reportedly urged to check at privately-operated pharmacies where they could purchase treatment. Checks at several pharmacies were also met with claims that treatment was not available.
When this state of affairs was put to the DCMO, she disclosed it was not at all inconceivable that this had occurred. She however informed that while she was not in possession of all of the facts, it is possible that while there may be a shortage of treatment at some locations, it is likely that there are others that have ample supplies.(Kaieteur News)