Future occurrence of ‘Gastro’ outbreak could be prevented

GINA, GUYANA, Saturday, January 14, 2017

The cause for the recent Gastroenteritis outbreak in Region Nine has been identified, treated, and contained. Doctors, health officers and Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) operatives carried out investigations in the areas of the reported outbreak and revealed that the outbreak was due to water borne disease contracted by residents.

Minister within the ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, hands over a fogging machine to Shea Toshao, John Agustus

In the cases of the outbreak in Aishalton, Shea, Maruranau and Awareranau, based on their findings water contamination was suspected to be the cause. Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Dr. Karen Cummings who visited the Region was informed by Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) representatives that in some areas, the code for setting up water pumps and wells were not adhered to.

Minister Cummings pointed out that, “What we found also is that they have this surface water and the well, it’s not covered so we hope that they would cover the wells (short term solution) and of course hygiene, wash hands, basically, hygiene to improve in that area and of course in terms of our medical supplies ensure that we have adequate oral rehydration salts (and other medication to treat with these cases).”

Water supplying wells, pumps and any pipe where water can be sourced should be erected at least 100 yards from sanitary blocks and bathroom facilities. Also it was stressed that water treatment practices should be efficiently carried out, according to the GWI.

“We were able to disseminate information in terms of how we can improve water quality, improve the hygiene, we were able to look at some wells, some pumps with Mr. Gomes, one of the Toshaos in one of the areas (Maruranau). We are hoping that we would be able to not have a reoccurrence in the future, we have sent in some medical supplies (and) we have given them bleach.” Minister Cummings added.

Meanwhile, District Doctor, Tenecia Marks, stationed in the South Rupununi told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that after receiving reports of a number of gastroenteritis infected cases, an investigation followed to determine the cause of the outbreak. “From the water samples taken from the wells within Shea the main bacterial colony was the E. coli bacteria and we also found Entamoeba histolytica (a protozoan parasite) in the stool samples taken from patients.” Dr. Marks explained. ( E. coli are a large and diverse group of bacteria. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, other can cause diarrhea and vomiting.)

Dr Marks added that after the recorded cases of Gastroenteritis were reported, “We immediately came to the surrounding villages and we did an outreach where we investigated the outbreak and to verify that it was indeed an outbreak. We visited the houses we inspected their wells took water samples, did chlorine distribution we did educative chats with the residents in the community and in simple terms demonstrated and also identified some of the unhealthy practices and how they can improve and practice healthy habits.”

Minister within the ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings and Patrick Gomes, Maruranau Toshao being briefed by a Guyana Water Incorporated Representative on the state of one of the wells in Maruranau

The minister and her team also found that after these exercises were carried out, cultural practices in the hinterland remains a barrier towards ensuring that effective health care delivery. Since some resident refuse to adhere to health advice provided by medical personnel within the area.

However, the minister concluded that the long term solution would be to replace defected water supply pumps and for the Community Health Workers at various Health Posts to educate residents on how water must be treated before consumption and domestic use.

Additionally,  Minister Cummings distributed mosquito nets for pregnant mothers. A fogging machine was also handed over to the Toshao of Shea village to assist in preventing the spread of Zika and other mosquito borne diseases in the South Rupununi.

The Minister also visited the Lethem Regional Hospital and noted that, “they have an adequate supply of drugs there and we expect great things coming out of Lethem as we strive to bring it up to a Regional Hospital.”

The Gastroenteritis outbreak was reported by Senior Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence, on January 10, 2017. The senior minister indicated that the situation has been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Public Health and was being monitored closely

By: Delicia Haynes


Minister within the ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, (second from right), Dr. Kay Shako (third from right) and team that visited Region Nine


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