VICTORIA, 30 October 2017 ---- Today the World Health Organization handed over a number of vital supplies to the Ministry of Health in Seychelles that will help bolster preparedness against potential disease outbreaks, including 400 sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In addition to supplies, efforts are also underway to ensure effective plans, systems and protocols are in place to respond to any suspected plague cases should they occur in the island country.
There have not been any confirmed cases of plague in Seychelles to date. However the country’s relative proximity to Madagascar increases risks of the spread of the disease.
“The Ministry of Health remains vigilant and on the alert and continues to test our systems to ensure we are prepared against potential plague cases,” said Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, Minister of Health in Seychelles, speaking at the handover ceremony at the country’s Sheikh Kalifah Diagnostic Centre today. “These additional supplies will provide valuable support in achieving the readiness required for any suspected or confirmed case,” he added.
The equipment includes protective gear for health workers, with surgical masks and gowns, face masks, examination gloves, protective goggles, boots, aprons, foldable stretchers, safety boxes and sprayers. It will be used to reinforce infection prevention and control measures currently in place to protect the safety of healthcare workers.
Over the coming days, frontline health workers will also be trained in the correct use of the gear.
“WHO has rallied all possible support for the Ministry of Health in Seychelles to enhance preparedness against potential outbreaks of infectious diseases,” said Dr. Teniin Gakuruh, Officer-in-Charge of WHO Seychelles. “Experience from around the world demonstrates a continuous need to strengthen surveillance, communications as well as infection prevention and control functions as a core component of a resilient health system, including ensuring availability and proper use of PPE supplies for healthcare personnel.”
Other activities to support preparedness against plague in Seychelles include trainings in disease surveillance; ensuring health workers are informed about correct clinical case definitions and treatment protocols for the disease; effective screening at airports and seaports; public awareness activities, as well as the development of plague-specific contingency plans and protocols.
Plague is not a new disease in Madagascar. However this current outbreak is of particular public health concern because it is occurring in non-endemic areas, and because both pneumonic and bubonic types are being reported. Pneumonic plague is the most virulent form of the disease.
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