CAPTION: Chief Medical Officer of Health for St. Catherine, Dr. Francine Prosper Chen giving the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation (SCMC) an update on the dengue outbreak in the parish on Thursday.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Health for St. Catherine, Dr. Francine Prosper Chen says that the ongoing dengue fever outbreak sweeping the island has significantly impacted the parish.
Dr. Prosper Chen was specially invited to provide an update on the outbreak on behalf of the Ministry of Health (MOH) to members of the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation (SCMC) at its first monthly general meeting in Spanish Town on Thursday, January 10.
According to Dr. Prosper Chen, since the start of 2018, the parish recorded a total of 187 cases of the disease – covering suspected, confirmed and presumed instances of dengue fever. When the Ministry of Health declared an outbreak last week, St. Catherine was among five parishes with a higher number of reported cases, to include Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Ann and Westmoreland.
“St. Catherine has seen a surge in the number of dengue notifications received at the health department as early as November 2018 and vector control activities around those notifications have been ongoing,” she contended.
“St. Catherine recorded a total of 187 notifications for 2018, with 75 or 40 percent of these received in December,” Dr. Prosper Chen added. She explained that ‘notifications’ referred to patients seen at whatever facility who is either suspected, confirmed or presumed to have contracted the dengue virus.
Greater Portmore Has Majority Of Cases
The St. Catherine CMO further noted that of the four types of the dengue virus, the current outbreak has been directly attributed to the type III strain, with the parish recording two deaths, both children so far as the only casualties.
Children have been the age group hardest hit by the dengue outbreak, with 46 or seven percent of the recorded notifications coming from patients under the age of 12. Nine notifications were observed in patients 12-19 years old with the remaining 17 or 32 percent of notifications coming from patients ranging in ages from 19-46.
Dr. Prospect Chen further asserted that the Greater Portmore zone was identified as having the majority of the parish’s 187 notifications last year, followed by Spanish Town, Old Harbour and Linstead.
A recent Portmore Municipality newsletter stated that 58,000 houses have been built in modern Portmore since 1969, and of that number, there is said to be some 20,000 houses in Greater Portmore.
In light of the toll the outbreak continues to take on the parish, Dr. Prosper Chen noted that the St. Catherine Health Department has launched a robust public education campaign, “targeting all systems, including public and private health professionals.”
“Education has commenced in health centres, hospitals, business places, nurseries, daycare centres, boys’ and girls’ homes and will continue in schools, which reopen this week,” she said.
By: Gavin Riley