Health ministry worry about waterborne diseases, battered hospitals
Hurricane Sandy showed some consideration for the already over-burdened health sector leaving most hospitals and health centres in reasonable condition.
However, Health Minister Fenton Ferguson will still have to find money to carry out some repairs.
"We are still in the checking phase and I might not have a preliminary estimate until tomorrow (Sunday)," Ferguson said yesterday.
"Anything that I could give you now would be preliminary, but it was not as bad as was anticipated," added Ferguson.
He noted that the Annotto Bay Hospital in St Mary was badly damaged with its Accident and Emergency area particularly hard-hit.
"But the sector, on a whole, is getting back to normal even though routine surgery remains on hold."
Ferguson said he is awaiting word from the health ministry's emergency operations centre about the state of all the hospitals and health centres.
By yesterday, all hospitals had resumed full operations with the exception of the Annotto Bay Hospital and the Port Antonio Hospital in Portland.
The Annotto Bay Hospital was offering emergency services only, while the Port Antonio Hospital was offering out-patient and emergency services.
In the meantime, director of emergency, disaster management and special services at the Ministry of Health, Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse, has urged Jamaicans to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases in the aftermath of Sandy.
"We know that with the passage of the hurricane, a number of our water-supply systems are not operational, and there are also areas that may have been contaminated from pit latrines being washed out, as well as dirt and debris that have been deposited in the water," said Bullock DuCasse.
She noted that there are two recommended methods of treating the water to ensure that it is safe for drinking and cooking. These are boiling and the addition of bleach.
"By these methods, we are hoping to reduce many of the waterborne diseases," said Bullock DuCasse as she added that the health ministry hopes to have no reported cases of gastroenteritis or leptospirosis.
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestine which results in diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps.
The organism that causes leptospirosis may be present in contaminated water and can enter the body through mucus membranes - that is the lining of the eye, nostrils, the mouth - and through the skin.