Health Ministry receives US$206,000 from IDB to fight Zika virus

…fund will be utilised for consumables and other treatments Dr Norton

As Guyana improves its strategic approach in combating the mosquito borne Zika Virus, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has received a sum of US$206,000 from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for this cause.

Although the number of persons who had fallen victim to the virus remains at a recorded 12, with other suspected unrecorded cases, the Health Ministry says it’s bent on ensuring that Zika does not become a pandemic in Guyana and that the figures are reduced.

During an interview with Minister of Health Dr George Norton, he related to Guyana Times that his ministry is resolute in its goal of eliminating the Zika Virus from Guyana especially since the cases have not spiralled.

The Health Minister outlined that the money received will be used primarily on consumables and other treatments that can decrease the effects of the virus but not get rid of it completely, since there has been no found cure.

According to the Minister, the Health Ministry has already reserved US$50,000 for consumables while another US$50,000 is budgeted for the treatment. Treatment he said will involve the dispensation of medications from overseas companies that specialise in the production of Zika virus drugs.

These drugs, he explained, are expensive to procure but highlighted that the IDB funds will aid significantly in the provision of the drugs.

Currently, when persons test positive for the virus, they are usually isolated and treated with basic drugs that doctors have found to be effective in reducing the symptoms. Additionally, the use of fluids are prescribed.

Norton noted however, that when the treatment becomes available in the near future, a more comprehensive approach will be taken to systematically rid the virus from the victims. With the cure not yet discovered, doctors are trying to at least relieve victims from the symptoms.

According to the minister, at present the status of the virus in the country has not changed much but each week five samples are sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing. Thus far, all these have returned negative besides the 12 already recorded cases.

Dr Norton informed that there has been a visible improvement in fighting the virus, “but the Ministry will not rest until it becomes dormant in Guyana.”

Meanwhile, he said that the standard strategic measures remain intact with fogging campaigns, distribution of mosquito repellents and nettings, and the use of media to disseminate information pertaining to the virus.

Furthermore, a number of medical personnel have been sent to Trinidad to be part of the training in Zika fighting, Dr Norton noted.

These persons will be trained specifically in the area of testing of samples in Guyana. The equipment for this has already been made available, according to the minister.

The first case of the virus was recorded in January of this year while at the same time, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Guyana to the list of countries likely to face the severe impacts of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Due to the close proximity of Guyana and Brazil, which has been severely infected with the disease, a greater effort from the government was exerted into fighting the virus.