Guyana has established a joint multi-disciplinary team to help thwart the likelihood of a measles outbreak among vulnerable communities spread across the country.

The team comprises officials from the Civil Defence Commission (CDC); the Guyana Defence Force (GDF); the Ministry of Citizenship; the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH); the International Organisation on Migration (IOM); the Immigration Department of the Guyana Police Force (GPF); and the Pan American Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).

Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Officer Dr Oneka Scott said the team has drafted an emergency plan outlining different components of the blueprint including risk communication, immunisation coverage, cold storage, and International Health Regulations (IHR) to ensure Guyana remains “measles free”.

The MOPH and PAHO/WHO have teamed up and over the last two years hiked vaccination coverage countrywide, targeting the entire family and not limited to the country’s under-5 population in Regions 1 (Barima/Waini); 7 (Cuyuni/Mazaruni); 8 (Potaro/Siparuni) and 9 (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo).

The spike in vaccination and surveillance activities targets the country’s border communities, Scott said. She said last year 98 countries reported an increase in cases of measles with 136,000 deaths according to WHO reports.

In the Region of the Americas, where Guyana is geographically located, measles outbreak started in Venezuela, west of Guyana’s border, in July 2015. The ongoing social and economic hardships in Caracas pushed many nationals to seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as Guyana to restart their lives.

Between June 2017 and October 2018, some 7,500 suspected cases of measles were reported in Venezuela. With thousands of Venezuelan refugees now flocking Guyana, the WHO in 2017 declared an Emergency Response for Guyana following the outbreak of Measles in Venezuela and a subsequent spread of this re-emerging disease to Brazil.


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