Health officials have beefed up surveillance efforts along border communities in response to the growing concerns related to persons fleeing political and economic hardships in Venezuela.
Statistics obtained by Kaieteur News indicate that some 1,446 Venezuelans were screened in the past three months by mobile surveillance health teams in Region One (Barima/Waini).
These teams are established at critical locations such as ports of entry to aid in screening, health promotion and health education activities.
According to the statistics from mobile patrols, 52 Venezuelans were diagnosed with skin infections; 67 with respiratory infection; 146 with malaria: three with HIV. There were no tuberculosis cases detected.
At the Mabaruma Regional Hospital, between January and July, some 499 Venezuelans were screened. According to the statistics obtained by this publication, this included 27 skin infections; 45 with respiratory diseases; 234 with malaria; two with tuberculosis; and one HIV case.
There are growing health concerns throughout South America about the movement of people fleeing Venezuela.
In Brazil, this exodus has been blamed for the pockets of measles in the country, as the genotype of the virus (D8) that is circulating in the country, is the same that circulates in Venezuela.
This is something that Guyana is fully aware of. Keeping Guyana measles-free is among the priority matters, according to Dr. Oneka Scott, Maternal and Child Health Director [AG].
“We have been vaccinating those in the border communities, working with the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) as well as a special team that we have put together to look at what our needs are. There was an entire surveillance plan developed,” Dr. Scott explained.
According to the Director, in March, they extended the vaccination campaign to adults in bordering areas in some of the more difficult places to reach in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine.
Dr. Scott noted that Venezuelans, Brazilians, as well as Guyanese are being vaccinated.
“At all of the port health facilities, there is a heightened sense of surveillance, and by surveillance, I mean for vaccination of preventable diseases. In this case, it is not just for measles, but diphtheria and yellow fever. Sensitisation has been done with all of our army facilities and our military forces, and that includes police in those targeted areas and Region Two as well,” Dr. Scott noted.
Dr. Scott stated that so far, following intense surveillance, they have had no cases of measles in Guyana. There was one suspected case. That sample was sent to be tested and turned out to be negative.
She stated that health officials have received reports of cases of polio in Venezuela, but the surveillance included examining the primary signs associated with polio.
“In the past, Venezuela has had yellow fever outbreaks, diphtheria outbreaks and suspected cases of polio and you know there is a lot of traffic coming across now. If the public is not on the alert, we will not be fully prepared. Everybody has to be a public health surveillance officer. Everybody has to watch out for signs and symptoms and when we are at that heightened level of alertness and surveillance then we will all be prepared,” Dr. Scott noted.
She stated that teams are looking for all paralysis in young adults and taking stool samples.
In terms of vaccines, Dr. Scott assured that the Ministry has enough.
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