Guyana’s main opposition party is laying blame at the feet of the government for the recent increase of Dengue in the country. According to A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Parliamentarian, Dr Karen Cummings, Guyana is tottering precariously towards a major health crisis with potentially devastating consequences.

The former Health Minister said that approximately 3,453 persons in Guyana contracted the vector-borne illness with some 2,169 active cases reported. She noted that the deaths of two children, ages 9 and 11, are a sign that more needs to be done.

“Guyana seems to be heading towards a public health crisis. It must be further noted that two weeks ago Region Six recorded in excess of 107 cases of Dengue with 24 cases in 24 hours according to the Regional Democratic Council (RDC),” the MP said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 2.5 million people are at risk of Dengue infection globally. Additionally, it is the leading cause of child mortality with most people having asymptomatic infections.

Dengue is a common tropical infection transmitted to man by the Aedes mosquito and exists in two forms namely Dengue Hemorrhagic Syndrome and Dengue Shock Syndrome. The general symptoms of Dengue include high fever, severe headache, retro-orbital pain, myalgia and arthralgia (muscle and joint) and a rash to the face or thorax-chest. However, Dengue Hemorrhagic fever is present with vomiting, (blood or blood in the stool), abdominal pain and difficulty in breathing. Whereas Dengue Shock Syndrome occurs when the circulatory system fails, this is followed by tiredness, restlessness, irritableness, shock, organ impairment and death.

The Ministry of Health informed the public recently that 8,000 tests were conducted but only 22 percent of the tests were positive. However, in consideration of the national healthcare inefficiencies and the sacred responsibility for guarding the health of the nation, it is 22 per cent too many, Dr Cummings stressed.

Additionally, she noted that “sensible” projections must be made considering that the incubation period for Dengue is usually 4 to 10 days, while the symptoms are seen for 2-7 days. Of the 4 Dengue Serotypes, DenV1 and DenV2 are the common types.

“Since it is also known that a person who has had one serotype followed by another serotype can increase his or her risk of Dengue, it behoves the Ministry of Health to admit sooner rather than later that there is a public health crisis on our hands and this situation must forthwith be treated with urgent importance. This matter is of public health significance and must be given public health priority,” the MP said during a press conference on Thursday.

“The Opposition calls for responsible behaviour by the government and all citizens to ensure that there is a clean and clear environment and, that there is rapid virus detection to provide early prediction of any possible epidemic. We must also be cognizant of the fact that frequent international travel and Global warming could contribute to increasing the frequency of this dengue virus,” the politician noted.


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