Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Ebola can be stopped!

Published:Sunday | October 19, 2014 | 3:32 PM
This photo provided by the US Centers for Disease Control shows an Ebola virus.
Jamaica needs to import at least two stationery high traffic fever scanners for passengers coming through the two major airports

survived to treat those at risk to die. The developed world cautioned Nigeria against that method of treatment. Nigeria had no choice as the approximately 1,000 doses of ZMapp donated to Africa are elsewhere because the logistics of getting the drug there are yet to be worked out. The method of using blood from infected persons who survived is now part of the standard treatment.


Countries like Jamaica need to lobby the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization for a more concerted effort to get Ebola medicines into advanced testing and to make them available in the field.

I implore established companies like Cari-Med and LASCO Pharmaceutical to explore the option of getting a few vials of these experimental drugs into a cold storage facility in Jamaica.

Now is an opportune time for Jamaican pharmaceutical companies to get into development of new drugs for emerging tropical diseases. Jamaica might not be able to afford many thermal scanners but Jamaica needs to import at least two stationery high traffic fever scanners for passengers coming through the two major airports. Nigeria, South Africa, USA and Europe are buying these multiple purpose fever detectors to pick out passengers with fever as they randomly move through the airport. Jamaica needs to identify a cadre of security officers to be trained in epidemic intelligence tracking (disease detectives) in case quarantine laws need to be enforced.

Jamaica should also stockpile a few high grade Hazmat suits to protect those outside of the average healthcare workers who might come in contact with Ebola or suspect cases. There may be itinerary cleaners and garbage collectors who might get exposed. We must have a contingency plan to protect the most vulnerable.

Ebola is in Europe, USA and Africa and spreading. Jamaica?s healthcare system must be made ready. Meaning, all Jamaicans and visitors to our shore should be guaranteed a fighting chance in case of health eventualities whilst ensuring full protection for all workers in the sector. Pathogens are everywhere; it will be how Jamaica reduces risks of infection that will ultimately determine the viability of our tourism product.

n Rachael Irving, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona