No shortage of H1N1 medication - De La Haye
A suggestion that Suzanna Roye, the 50-year-old doctor who reportedly died from complications related to the H1N1 virus, succumbed as a result of a lack of availability of the medication used to treat the illness, is being rebuffed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Winston De la Haye.
“I hear a lot of rumours to say… we didn't have the treatment and that we had to get it from Trinidad, which are not true. We were adequately resourced in that area,” he said.
According to De La Haye, the Ministry of Health had stocked up on supplies of Tamiflu, an antiviral medication used to treat the virus also known as swine flu.
“As a part of the increased preparation phase, what we did was shore up our supplies and get more in preparation and we continue to do that so there is no shortage of additional supplies and we have shored up our supplies in preparation,” he said.
De La Haye disclosed that Jamaica has an arrangement with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for supply of the Tamiflu medication. He also went on to address the effectiveness of the flu vaccine in fighting the H1N1 virus.
“It's not everybody that gets the flu vaccine. What is said about the flu vaccine is that it is prepared based on last year’s infection so every year that is how it's done, so it comes out in about September and is distributed internationally so if you have an infection that is a mutation of what you had last year then it would not be effective but it is the best we have,” he said.
De La Haye, however, affirmed that studies show that at best it reduces the duration of an influenza virus from days to hours.
He further noted that precautionary mechanisms have been stepped up for doctors who will have to treat influenza patients.
Roye was one of at least two medical professionals in the island among the nine persons confirmed to have been infected with the H1N1 virus.
“When we heard of the cases... we ramped up several things to include the physician's approach to treatment including mask and so on because the H1N1 is a droplet-transmitted infection... so while preparing the public we are preparing our colleagues and front line staff who are more at risk of being in contact,” he said.