A single Ebola patient treated in a U.S. hospital will generate eight 55-gallon barrels of medical waste each day, according to Monte Morin of the Los Angeles Times. The Coronavirus – a highly infectious disease like Ebola – has infected 50,000 people worldwide in 24 countries.
How is Guyana prepared to handle, store transport, and dispose of infectious waste with the threat of the Coronavirus?
Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the grave concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems. The Director-General stated, “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems and which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”
When it comes to risk and mitigation of infectious diseases, experts concluded that the delayed responses to the Ebola outbreak exemplify the dangers of the outbreak in countries and states with inadequate healthcare systems. Terrorism, disease outbreaks, and other natural disasters and mass casualty events have pushed health care and public health systems to identify and refine emergency preparedness protocols for disaster response.
Emerging infectious diseases present threats to global health. The 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa caught local and global healthcare communities unaware and unprepared. The Coronavirus seems to have the same impact in 2020 with a broader infection span (24 countries) than the Ebola virus.
How adequate is the healthcare system in Guyana to deal with one case of the Coronavirus that could infect the entire population?
The Ebola virus caused the U.S and many other countries to allocate significant resources into a series of emergency response activities. The U.S, Canada, and other countries established several Treatment Units/Centres and Community Care Centres, supplying volunteer health workers, public health, and educational messages, and developing experimental pharmaceutical treatments and vaccines. During the crisis, the U.S. Congress appropriated $5.4 billion for emergency preparedness. In 2016, the Obama administration requested $1.9 billion for emergency funding for the Zika outbreak. How is Guyana funding preparedness for the Coronavirus?
There is a fierce urgency for the GoG to appropriate adequate funds to meet the challenges caused by the Coronavirus. These funds for national public health can be come from the Signing Bonus and the rents from offshore oil blocks.
Oil and gas revenues can provide significant funding for emergency preparedness in the public health sector. The critical question is: How much is the Guyana Government willing to appropriate for preparedness in response to the Coronavirus and preparedness for future emerging infectious diseases?
Emerging infectious disease outbreaks have increased since 1940; due to changes in the human-animal-environment interface-between 1940 and 2004, 60% of such outbreaks were caused by zoonotic pathogens. The highest mortality impact in history stemmed from emerging infectious diseases, including the plague and pandemic influenza in 1918/1919 and HIV. One dangerous fact is that antimicrobial resistance is increasing internationally and is described by the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Margaret Chan, as a “slow‐motion tsunami.”
In 2013, Guinea announced the death of a two- year old child from haemorrhagic fever known as Ebola. With over 25,000 cases (WHO 2015), it is the worst Ebola outbreak in history. That was then; the Coronavirus is now-2020. What is Guyana’s level of preparedness?
It is without contention that billions of oil revenue dollars in a Natural Resource Fund (sovereign wealth fund) cannot protect the Guyanese people in Guyana from a natural disaster or a pandemic unless it is used to elevate the level of preparedness and response to natural disasters and emerging infectious diseases like the Coronavirus…
What percentage of oil revenues should the Government allocate to response and emergency preparedness for emerging infectious diseases-handling, storage, transportation, and disposal?
“The answer my friends, to this important question, is not yet blowing in the wind, but warrants an urgent response.”
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