Minister's Admission is only a First Step – Baugh

“…this presents an opportunity for a long overdue cohesive national approach..”
Jamaica Labour Party Spokesman on Health Dr. Kenneth Baugh, in commenting on Sunday evening’s statement by the Minister of Health, stated that he welcomed the Minister's admission that there is a Chikungunya epidemic.

Dr. Baugh stated that this presents an opportunity for a long overdue cohesive national approach, and noted that Dr. Kevin Harvey, Acting Chief Medical Officer, had already publicly stated that the virus could affect up to 60% of the entire Jamaican population.

The Opposition Spokesman on Health again made clear that the virus is serious not only in its impact on persons and the economy, but in respect of the speed with which it spreads.  He said he was therefore also pleased that the labels of “alarmist” and “scare mongering” have been removed as they had detracted from persons treating the illness as serious, and distracted the Ministry and its agencies from mobilizing and energizing people to constrain the illness.

Dr. Baugh noted that while the Minister has finally confronted the seriousness of the issue, he did not address several things. He said: “It was unfortunate that his presentation ignored the fact that a lot of pharmacies are out of stock of the basic medications needed to address symptoms.  He needs to make urgent provisions for this.  Related to this point is the fact that the Minister also did not address the matter of budgetary provisions.  The JLP Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw, has already called for emergency funds to be allocated whether from ODPEM or TEF or otherwise, but the Minister did not address these important points. The Minister also did not bring forward any plan to deal with the garbage pileup across the island that is proving a habitat for mosquitoes.”

Dr. Baugh also called on the Minister to promptly announce details regarding the emergency command center, including the location, telephone number and the skill sets that will be mobilized there.  He also said the Minister must ensure that regular information bulletins are issued by text messages and traditional media - providing public health tips, information as to numbers of persons affected in particular areas and steps being taken to manage the situation.