Sat | Jan 18, 2020

Introduce dengue-testing kits in hospitals, says councillor

Published:Saturday | December 14, 2019 | 12:10 AMJason Cross/ Gleaner Writer

At least one Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation councillor has charged Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton to speedily introduce dengue-testing kits at public health facilities, particularly at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

Charmaine Daniels, councillor for the Allman Town division, told The Gleaner on Wednesday, that she is grateful that Tufton and his team were guests at a council meeting at the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation on Tuesday to hear dengue-related and other concerns.

Motivated by a recent personal experience, Daniels suggested that the kits be introduced to save time as they can diagnose patients early. The experience she shared was one of doctors playing wait-and-see, when she recently took her eight-year-old niece to the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

“This was two weeks after another female councillor, Kari Douglas, had an altercation (with a doctor), which shut down the accident and emergency unit for hours roughly a month ago. They are just depending on the blood test to say if it is dengue, and that is not good enough. They need the kits in the hospitals,” she demanded.

“When I was at children’s (Bustamante Hospital for Children) with my niece, after she was admitted there, they checked her fever for over three days and it was when I said to them to do the dengue test, that was when the doctor told me there were no kits,” Daniels recalled.

SAVING TIME

She is convinced it could help save time and ease parents’ frustration.

“When I spoke to mothers, they said they were not sure if their child had dengue and [they had to be waiting long].”

However, Tufton rebutted, telling The Gleaner the testing kits can be unreliable and, therefore, is best to rely on the doctor’s judgement. He explained that the kits tend to return negative results, when patients do in fact have dengue fever.

Daniels said the $500,000 allotted to councillors for cleaning drains and destroying mosquito breeding sites is inadequate.

“The activities have to do with cleaning up. It is a pain because some areas have a lot of open lots and a lot of bulky waste. What we are seeing are not rats anymore. They have become horses. I don’t know how to describe them. Mosquitoes and other insect are involved. In the open lots, you will find these creatures. What is happening to us is that no sooner than we clean, garbage is there again.”

Douglas told The Gleaner that there were no immediate plans to expand operations at the children’s hospital to facilitate an influx of dengue patients over the Christmas period and to ease overburden on secondary health-care facilities.

“It is critically important that another ward be included to take off the burden caused by dengue, and especially in light of the increase in medical cases that happens every year this time. I believe they should isolate dengue patients on a special ward, to prevent spreading. I encourage the minister to put things in place for that.”

Responding to the recommendation for an isolation of dengue patients, the health minister said, “It is a good idea that can only be implemented if we build more hospital space. The idea of separating from the general population is not easy because of space limitation.”

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com