Child dies, but health team contains diarrhoea outbreak at Masakenari

A diarrhoea outbreak in the Wai Wai village of Masakenari has claimed the life of a child but the outbreak has been successfully contained, the Guyana Informa-tion Agency (GINA) has reported.

The village, the most remote of Amerindian communities, is home to 242 people, 43 of them children under five and 5 are pregnant women.

According to GINA, having received reports about the outbreak a response team was dispatched from the central Ministry of Health “and has been able to contain the situation.”  The team, which is headed by Dr Arbib Godette, and includes other health care professionals, representatives from the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and members of the Guyana Defence Force, arrived in the community on Saturday and was contacted by Education Minister Bheri Ramsaran on Monday via Skype. The minister was accompanied at the Skype session, conducted from his office, by Epidemiologist, Dr Maurice Edwards; Dr Monica Odwin, Director of Regional Health Services and Mr Michael Gouveia, Coordinator of Indigenous Communities.

GINA said the Ministry of Health had hired three aircraft to airlift the team members and large quantities of medicines and medical supplies along with food and other items to support the team. The supplies included a massive amount of bleach and water treatment (chlorine) tablets.

The release said that during the Skype connection, Dr Godette, reported that a child who was being treated had experienced a relapse and that the team had conducted blood tests and diagnosed that the child also has dengue. That child and a 72- year old cancer patient were expected to travel out of the community yesterday via aircraft with Dr Godette, who was to be replaced by Dr Rajiv Singh.

Meanwhile UNICEF’s Resident Representative in Guyana Marianne Flach travelled into the community yesterday. The release said Ramsaran had briefed her on Monday and requested additional material support.

The ministry has committed to keeping a team in the community for the next month at the least and to have a continuous daily Skype connection.  Ramsaran committed to sending in additional insecticide treated bed nets for the residents of the village, formerly called Konashen and Gunns Strip – particularly those who are below five years old and pregnant women since they are the most vulnerable, the release said.

He also instructed that several spray cans and insecticides be sent in with the next air lift along with personnel to train the community in their safe and correct use. He advised the medical team to work closely with Toshao Paul Chekema to select several able-bodied youths to be trained to safely and effectively spray the community, GINA added.

The team is to look for the mosquito breeding grounds so that they can be eradicated and the school and health hut are to be equipped with garbage bins and bags.

GINA said house-to-house visits were done to inform the residents about proper hygiene and garbage disposal, and the team held a community meeting and interacted with every grade at the village school.

Ramsaran promised that water containers will be sent in for the school on the next airlift to ensure there is purified water, the release said. It also outlined other health measures to be taken.

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