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Ministry of Health supports call for national blood drive to fight dengue outbreak

Published:Monday | January 7, 2019 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health.
Dr Dayton Campbell (right), Opposition spokesman on health, addressing a press conference at the People’s National Party’s St Andrew headquarters yesterday. At left is Colin Fagan, member of parliament for South East St Catherine.

Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health, has endorsed Dr Dayton Campbell's call for a national blood drive to assist persons who develop complications from contracting the dengue haemorrhagic fever.

There is currently an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease across the country.

Addressing a press conference at the People's National Party's (PNP) headquarters in St Andrew yesterday, Campbell, the opposition spokesman on health, explained that a lot of people end up contracting dengue haemorrhagic fever because their platelet count was falling.

"Platelet is what causes the blood to clot," he said, noting that it was important for an ample supply of blood to be available to cater to persons who develop complications from the disease.

Bisasor McKenzie told The Gleaner yesterday that while there has not been a specific call by the health ministry for persons to give blood, a collection drive is done every day.

"In addition to that, coming up at Christmas time, we normally make an appeal, which we have gone through, because it tends to be a time of year when there is a big demand for blood. We have motor vehicle accidents and other issues, so there is always a need for persons to donate more blood," she said.

"Certainly, if we are having more patients with dengue haemorrhagic fever or severe dengue, it is always good to have more blood. One cannot fault anybody and not endorse anybody's call for there to be more blood donations."




At the press conference, Campbell urged, "We want to use this opportunity to make a national call for persons to go in and donate blood so that the ministry and the Government will be in a position that when these persons are affected by dengue haemorrhagic fever and their platelet count falls, they can get platelets for transfusion."

He added, "I am thinking that a part of the response of the ministry would be to encourage persons to go out and do the blood donations so that you can have the platelets to do the transfusion when needed."

Campbell also disclosed that his research has shown that more persons have died from the illness than what was reported by the health ministry.

Last Thursday, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton outlined that for December 2018, there were 123 reported dengue cases, which include suspected, presumed, and confirmed cases. The number exceeds the outbreak threshold of 96 cases. He said that seven suspected dengue-related deaths have been reported since the start of the dengue season, with two of those cases confirmed.