Mandeville Ebola panic shows we just aren't ready
THE EDITOR, Sir: The recent Ebola scare at the Mandeville Regional Hospital was one of the most frightening experiences for the people of the town. What is even more frightening is the fact that all the fancy Ebola preparedness talk from the prime minister and the notoriously clueless minister of health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, was just that: talk.
The Nigerian man at the centre of the scare went to the hospital for treatment from what was later said to be a case of food poisoning. The fact that he was Nigerian, travelled to Nigeria recently, had stomach pain and was vomiting caused a panic that saw porters, nurses and other medical personnel locking themselves in a room, with the rest leaving the vicinity of the sick man.
On top of that, one nurse without the proper hazardous material suit was checking on the man, until she, too, dropped hands and sought to protect herself! Then, to make matters worse, many persons hearing of the incident made their way to the hospital to get a closer look. It was chaos all around.
This incident was for me a live and direct show of how the Government handles suspected Ebola cases. And on every score, it failed miserably.
I was told by one doctor that there has been no training, much less provision of any hazardous material suits. I see where, too, Dr Ferguson, surprisingly still the minister of health despite making a complete mess of the chikungunya epidemic, and the acting chief medical officer, Dr Marion Bullock-Ducasse, could not be reached by media.
This was an absolute disaster. We are all sitting ducks. We need serious preparation for Ebola, not lip service.