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Expert group to deal with potential microcephaly cases

Published:Monday | August 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Dr Christopher Tufton

The Ministry of Health has identified an expert group to look at recommendations to address the support that will be required for children born with birth defects associated with the Zika virus. The expert group consists of a neuro psychologist, paediatirc psychologist, child psychiatrist, paediatric neurologist, behavioral paediatrician, paediatrician and an early-childhood education specialist. The group will seek to provide a plan to address the concerns and support that will be required to provide care for children who may be born with birth defects associated with the mosquito-borne virus.

The group is expected to provide recommendations to the Ministry of Health by the end of September 2016. Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton said "the Ministry of Health is trying to ensure that children and parents that may become affected by Zika, in terms of birth defects, receive as much psychosocial support as is necessary".

Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect where babies are born with small heads, as well as Guillan Barre Syndrome, a neurological disorder resulting in weakness of various muscle groups.


Public education


The Ministry of Health has increased its public education campaign to sensitise the public on the need to destroy mosquito-breeding sites, as well as the importance of personal responsibility in reducing the risk of being bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

As part of its current phase two response to Zika, pregnant women are a main focus and have been encouraged to get regular antenatal check-ups and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. All suspected ZIKV-positive pregnant women have been referred to high risk antenatal clinics islandwide.