In response to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of the Ebola Virus Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) made on July 17, 2019, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has activated its national Ebola Virus Disease Response Plan. Developed in 2014, the Response Plan is being activated to increase awareness, educate stakeholders, and prepare the country for any eventualities.
A Public Health Emergency of International Concern is an extraordinary event which has been determined, to constitute a public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease; and to potentially require a coordinated international response. This implies a situation that is serious, unusual or unexpected, carries implications for public health beyond the affected State’s national border and may require immediate international action.
At this time, the WHO has indicated that though the risk had been high locally in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is now also high for the region of Africa, the current global risk remains low.
In response to the WHO declaration, the Ministry will be sensitizing all relevant categories of persons, including the members of the Health Team, Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the public; heightening surveillance activities at points of entry and scheduling sensitization sessions for healthcare workers.
Health & Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton speaking in parliament noted that “Given the relatively robust surveillance and Infection Prevention and Control Practices in Jamaica, the public can be reassured that the current emergency response arrangements are in place to enable an appropriate response in the event of the introduction of the Ebola Virus Disease into the country.”
“The Ministry will also be ensuring capacities for readiness which includes addressing stock levels of critical equipment and supplies, protocols for specimen and patient transportation and reporting requirements,” Minister Tufton added.