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Statement to Parliament by Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton – July 19, 2016

STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT
BY
MINISTER OF HEALTH
DR. THE HON. CHRISTOPHER TUFTON
TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2016

Introduction

Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Health has been continuously updating the country on our efforts to reduce the impact of the zika virus on the population, in particular pregnant women and their babies. We know that this is a new disease which cannot be precisely predicted so we have been monitoring very closely and putting several measures in place out of an abundance of caution.

Zika Virus in Jamaica

Mr. Speaker, at present we have a total of forty four (44) laboratory confirmed cases of zika.

As of July 18, 2016 the Ministry of Health received reports of three thousand seven hundred and forty six (3,746) notifications for Zika. Two thousand five hundred and twenty four (2,524) or 67 percent of these fit the case definition and were classified as “Suspected Zika fever”. Among these were two hundred and thirty one (231) pregnant women all of whom have been tested, Seven (7) were confirmed zika positive and have been informed.

Microcephaly and Zika Virus

Mr. Speaker based on research and experience from other countries the assumption is that 10 percent of pregnant women exposed to the zika virus may have a child with microcephaly. I want to stress that at this stage this is an assumption as we really do not know what the outcome will be. Despite that we have been putting measures in place to monitor all pregnant women.  The difficulty is that even if we know that you have a positive result, we will not know until late in the pregnancy or after birth whether the child has microcephaly. There is presently no intervention to counter that possibility, while we continue to provide supportive care throughout the pregnancy to ensure the best possible outcome.

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