Port of Spain, Trinidad — Trinidad and Tobago now has about 1,000 suspected cases of chikungunya. This was revealed yesterday by Chief Medical Officer at the Minis¬try of Health Dr Colin Furlonge, who said key stakeholders in the fight against chikungunya met on Tuesday with the intention of appointing a multi-sectoral task force to combat the virus.
He also said by next week Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan will name the team. Furlonge also said although the focus has somewhat shifted to Ebola, CHIKV prevention also remained of paramount importanc¬e.
Via a telephone interview yesterday, Furlonge said: “We have developed the philosophy of it. By next week, the multi-sectoral team will be named by Dr Khan, Local Government Minister Marlene Cou¬dray and Minister of Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh.
Referring to Tuesday’s meeting, Furlonge said: “We have not demoted the chances of people getting CHIKV. There are over 1,000 suspected cases. Not all will be confirmed. We launched a clean-up campaign. We had a discussion with joint partners and stakehol¬ders, including Principal Medical Officer of Environmental Health Dr Clive Tilluckdharry; CEO, Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPM) Dr Stephen Ramroop; CEPEP chairman Adesh Deona¬rine and Coudray.
Furlonge added: “We invited principal health officers (Dr Rohit Doon), permanent secretary Christine Sookram and deputy permanent secretaries Lydia Jacobs, Asif Ali and Eric James. We had principal medical officers and CEOs from the 14 boroughs. We had County Medical Officers of Health, Public Health Inspectorate Christopher Saith and senior public health inspectors. We devised some plans. It was a follow-up to the meeting in July about CHIKV.
Furlonge said the objective was to “create a team and formulate a multi-sectoral team to look after and to manage the environment. It would take into account other diseases. It would look at the need to keep the environment clean by reducing skin infections and diseas¬es spread by rats (lepto¬spirosis).
He also said several stakeholders were involved in managing the sanitisation aspect, “but the critical thing was to implement a multi-sectoral team of senior personnel.
Furlonge said the meeting also examined each stakeholder’s respective successes and gaps.
“We wanted to ensure we continue to monitor in a positive mode. It is not for any particular season, but for year-round proper maintenance of the environment,” said Furlong.
Emphasising the need to keep up the anti-CHIKV campaign, Furlonge said: “We recognise the risk of Ebola is small but real and potentially deadly. CHIKV is symptomatic. It will impact on the economic aspect. While there isn’t mortality, it will impact on the person’s mobility. We have to continue the fight against CHIKV. Though it (CHIKV) does not make the front page, there is a lot of work to deal with the continuous ongoing threat of CHIKV and dengue.”