Health ministry ‘going overboard’ with Swine Flu – Dr. Luncheon
“…it’s better to err by being overly cautious” – Dr. Ramsammy
By Tusika Martin
Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, is ‘going overboard’ with respect to the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) and the Ministry has to be careful that it does not contribute to a state of alarm, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon said yesterday.
According to Dr. Luncheon, the efforts taken by the Health Ministry to sensitize Guyanese is duly noted, but there must be caution, because unwarranted panic can have unintended consequences in identifying and publishing.
“I feel that we are going overboard and I have no doubt that the others feel the same way.”
He noted that the approach that deals with highlighting suspected cases is being done as though the disease is in Guyana.
The reality is the case definition, he said, noting that the definition for swine flu is very vague.
“It is not the kind of thing that gives you great assurance when you say that it is a suspected case,” Dr. Luncheon said.
Dr. Luncheon added that he believes that when this period has passed, then it will be realized that there were a large number of ‘false positives’, because that is what is happening in the rest of the world.
There is no doubt that Guyana is not insulated from the virus, considering that there are alerts in neighbouring countries, but that does not mean that we have to market the issue as though it actually exists, Dr. Luncheon said.
“I don’t know what the next step is in hyping up the interventions from what….13 suspected to 13 confirmed?
It looks to me that we have to be considerate, we have to be fairly deliberate in where we are in the whole stream of interventions ‘suspected cases, confirmed cases’ what do you do in cases of suspected cases, what do you do when you have confirmed cases?”
According to Dr. Luncheon, if Guyana goes ‘overboard’ on the suspected cases, then he cannot imagine what will occur if there is a confirmed case.
On the issue of Guyana’s importation of the vaccines, Dr. Luncheon said that it is all about the economics.
“If the rate of incidence of the disorder is so low, even if the fatality is high then you have to ask yourself, why should I invest when there might be a regional response?”
Meanwhile, in an invited comment on Dr. Luncheon’s proclamation, Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, said that his Ministry is doing its job, adding that it is better to err by being overly cautious.
“This is a case of being vigilant…as Minister of Health I am standing my ground. I’d rather be extra vigilant…my officers are prepared for that.”
The Ministry of Health has reported that 13 suspected cases of the H1N1 virus are being monitored.
And while the Minister of Health is optimistic that none of the cases will be tested positive for the virus, specimens were taken from the persons to maintain the public’s confidence in the local health sector.
So far none of the tested specimens have been classified as the H1N1 virus, he added.
But according to the Minister, efforts by his Ministry to create a level of sensitivity among the population, as it relates to the virus, have led to some challenges.
Dr. Ramsammy noted that the challenge for the local health sector, if required, is to identify the first case fast enough so as to be able to isolate it.
In essence, the Minister assured that the Ministry is doing everything that is humanly possible when it comes to addressing the threat of the virus.