MINISTRY OF HEALTH PROVIDES UPDATE ON MEASLE EXPOSURE

On April 1st, 2017, the surveillance team at the ministry received an unofficial report that a crew member from a West Jet flight that flew into the TCI, was diagnosed with measles.  On Sunday, the Ministry contacted the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) requesting confirmation of the information.  On Monday, PAHO through contact with the Canadian Public Health Agency confirmed the suspicion of the positive case.  The crew member worked seven (7) flights, one of which flew into the TCI on March 24th, 2017.  It was confirmed that the crew member did not deplane, but, because of the contact with passengers, who were visitors in the island, it is necessary for the surveillance system to be vigilant and extra sensitive to detect any secondary cases early.  The World Health Organization has also confirmed over 500 cases of measles in Europe since January 2017. 

Measles is a highly infectious disease accompanied by rash with fever and at least one of these three symptoms: coryza (runny nose), cough and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The rash starts behind the ears and then spreads to the head and neck, followed by the rest of the body.  Other symptoms include small greyish white spots with a bluish-white center inside the mouth, cheek and throat and body aches.  It is spread through droplet infection; coughs and sneezes.  The period when a person is infectious and can spread the virus is within 7 to 10 days of exposure, but can be up to 14 days.  The number one way of preventing measles is through the vaccination with the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.  This vaccine is offered free of cost at all primary health care facilities.

The Turks and Caicos Islands has maintained high coverage, over 95%, in the MMR vaccine.  We have very good immunity in the country.  The last reported case of measles in the TCI was in 1991.  Although, we have good immunity, persons who are not protected with the vaccine, are at an increased risk of contracting the virus.  The TCI is home to over one million visitors annually; this places the country at risk for importation and re-introduction of measles cases.

To be considered fully protected against measles, the individual must have two doses of the MMR vaccine.  The TCI offers this at ages 1 and 2 years.  Parents who are uncertain about their child’s immunization status should bring their take-home vaccine cards into any primary care clinic to have it checked.  Persons who are uncertain of their immunization status may also visit the clinic to determine their status and be vaccinated if necessary.  If you are concerned that you might have been exposed, please contact your health care provider.

For more information please contact a public health nurse at your local Primary Health Care clinic on 338- 5474, 338-5470 or 946-5613 or, you may contact your local health care provider.

Help us keep TCI, measles free!

 

GRAND TURK HOST SECOND YOUTH LISTENING TOUR

On Friday, March 24, 2017, the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Library Services kicked off its second Youth Listening Tour Launch in Grand Turk at the H J Robinson High School Auditorium. 

“It was a successful launching. The tour is a key part of my Government’s Change initiative,” said the Minister of Education, Hon. Josephine Connolly. “As noted in our change document, there will be a heavy focus on young people, on their empowerment and our commitment to giving them an opportunity to have their views and opinions be part of our planning and development.”

She further added; “The listening series will break down barriers between the youth, government and opportunities for success. Over the coming year, the Youth Department officials will host similar listening sessions and discussions with youth across the country.”

During the conversation at the H J Robinson High School Auditorium, the young people raised varying issues which emphasized the importance of education, sport and activities for their lives and for their future. The youths participating in the discussion courageously offered their honest feelings, experiences and desires.

Almost all of those who spoke up, suggested the government promote more sporting activities, programs for both males and females, so that they could stay away from negative influences. They stated their desire for a youth center, dance classes, a better school canteen, sidewalks to avoid the mud when it rains, lockers and more vocational subjects to be taught in schools. There were personal feelings expressed about the role of teachers and even experiences that were negative coming out of classrooms.

The minister was encouraged by the participation and assured the youths: “we hear you! I hear you!”

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER TRAINING AND EXERCISE 2017

The Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME) hosted a 3-day training exercise on Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.  The purpose of this exercise was to certify 30 Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staff and chairs of subcommittee in Emergency Response for all-hazards EOC activation. 

Facilitated by General, Earl Arthurs (Operations Specialist) and Ms. Joanne Persad (Programme Manager-Response and Recovery) of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the training was designed to enhance capacities in the principles of management, logistics, operations, planning, and finance within the context of an activated EOC. Additionally, the training course focused on the ability to maintain flexibility during dynamic events when managing disasters and emergencies of all types and intensities. Real-world examples of successful and unsuccessful emergency management situations was used to provide a more realistic and legitimate evaluation of emergency management challenges and best practices. Team building and exercise scenarios were also incorporated into the training as a strategy for increasing effectiveness of the TCI’s EOC team.

During an information brief on this important training exercise, Dr. Virginia Clerveaux, Director DDME commented that “One of the major benefits of the training was that it enabled persons who needed to work with each other for coordinated management of emergencies, to better know and understand each other’s capacities, strengths and propensities within the context of stressful emergency operations. The interactions and dynamics afforded by the training fostered development of long lasting relationships which would only helped to serve and improve the effectiveness of the EOC during future activations in support of real-world incidents.”

A functional table-top exercise was held on the March 23rd, 2017 which gave the participants an opportunity to execute their training. In so doing, this exercise also tested the operability of the National Disaster Management Plan and aid in the identification of gaps that need to be addressed.