Private facilities recognise upsurge in diarrhoeal infections
The local health sector has been battling the problem of diarrhoeal infections, a state of affairs that has been observed in both the public and private sectors. This newspaper learnt recently that the impact of the health problem was recognised in November last year and had in fact reached an alarming peak by December.
Officials from private medical facilities had reported that there was an increase in the incidence of diarrhoeal infections among both adult and children. The Ministry of Health had earlier this year admitted that there was an increase in the number of cases when compared to the same period last year.
The Ministry had however asserted that the problem has over the years remained a global public health problem in both developed and developing countries, although it assumes greater significance in developing countries.
Further, it was noted that the occurrence of gastroenteritis is a seasonal illness and the highest incidence occurs in the months of December, January, February and March.
This disclosure had come at a time when the Ministry was receiving an unusual number of calls from the public relating to diarrhoeal illnesses.
“Because the Ministry of Health considers the occurrence of gastroenteritis as a major public health problem, we have been monitoring the incidence of diarrhoeal illnesses throughout the country…All health facilities in Guyana, including private doctors and private hospitals have to report incidences on a weekly basis to the Ministry of Health,” the Minister had disclosed. However, one of the problems that has been encountered is the unreliable reporting from health facilities around the country,” Minister Ramsammy had additionally divulged.
The Minister and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud, were both adamant that the situation does not reflect an alarming situation.
Nonetheless, this disclosure has been of some concern to some private medical practitioners who have had direct involvement in addressing the health problem. One medical practitioner revealed that while there are usually a notable amount of diarrhoeal infection cases at the ending and beginning of the year, the situation has in fact been alarming. However, fewer cases have been reported of recent.
Recognising the situation to be bacteria oriented which manifests in the form of dysentery, the majority of cases observed were certainly not centered in the capital city but appeared to have had a reach throughout the regions.
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the feces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.
It is believed even by doctors who operate privately that the situation may be hinged on the hygienic practices of some persons, a notion that has also been emphasised by the Ministry of Health.
But even though the upsurge of diarrhoeal cases does not constitute a threatening situation but is rather a “usual trend”, Dr Persaud had revealed that the Ministry has started to circulate new guidelines for managing diarrhoea in all of the administrative regions.
This move, he said, is premised on the fact that it was discovered during the latter part of last year that some health officials, both in the public and private sectors, were not adhering to the recommended approaches for diarrhoeal management.
For the treatment of acute diarrhoeal diseases, the Ministry of Health recommends rehydration and not extensive use of antibiotics as have occurred in recent times, Dr Persaud relayed.
As a result, he said that efforts are being geared at re-emphasising the guidelines for management.
“Instead of just sending people away with treatment I have instructed that all of our regional and district hospitals should establish oral rehydration units so when children come in with diarrhoea they should sit them down there and administer the fluid to them in the presence of their parents or guardians and show them how to do it and ensure that the child is fully rehydrated before they leave.”
“The idea is to no longer just give them a prescription to go home and do what they feel might be appropriate but actually administering the administrative therapy and whatever measurers they need to put in place,” Dr Persaud had asserted.
And to further prevent the infection rate from reaching one of outbreak-level proportion, the Ministry has embarked on a programme to re-educate the public about the importance of using clean and safe water and of the risks that could emerge if they fail to adhere to hygienic practices.
And the hygiene measures he said can really make a huge impact in addressing the situation.