Vector borne disease testing to come on stream soon- Staff trained, kits expected

Georgetown, GINA, July 12, 2016

Two Senior Medical Technologists from the National Public Health Reference Laboratory have completed training at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on operating equipment to test for vector borne diseases.

Shemeza Ally-Sonoram and Johanna Vaughn, who completed the training, will work along with a number of other specialist staff identified by the ministry to perform specific duties in helping them complete these tests.

CARPHA had been training Guyanese health care providers in a number of specialist areas.

In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud explained that the ministry took advantage of the training offered by the Trinidad-based agency. “We had the intention to build capacity level at our National Public Health Reference Laboratory, but of course you know these lab tests are very specific, and not only require special skills, operators and technicians, but also require special equipment.”

The National Public Health Reference Laboratory

The National Public Health Reference Laboratory

The public health sector will now be able to efficiently test and treat patients diagnosed with vector borne diseases. Testing of samples for reported cases of these diseases are currently sent to CARPHA.

In addition to acquiring modern equipment, the Ministry of Public Health is also awaiting the arrival of ‘triple kits’ that would enable the lab to test for Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika.

“What would happen here is that the National Public Health Reference Laboratory would be the principal testing site, and we will collect the samples from the peripheral sites and bring them in,” Dr. Persaud added.

The Guyanese public can expect local testing for Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika in the public health sector to begin shortly. The Ministry of Public Health is working towards having this process started, and to also provide a service that will be effective and helpful to the public.

Dr. Persaud also highlighted that reported cases of these vector borne diseases have influenced the move towards facilitating local testing.

There have been 5375 reported cases of Chikungunya with 264 confirmed cases and 187 reported cases of Zika with 13 confirmed cases. Dengue has been a challenge throughout the Caribbean region, but Guyana has not experienced any serious cases of the illness. There are four types of Dengue fever; Guyana is affected by the primary infection of type two.

The Ministry of Public Health continues to encourage citizens to protect themselves from being affected by vector borne diseases by using bed nets, insect repellants, and wearing long-sleeved tops or long pants.

They can also prevent the breeding of mosquitoes by keeping water containers  covered, disposing stagnant water from flower vases, old tyres and other containers that might serve as breeding sites, and clear all  drains and waterways of garbage and debris.