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Health ministry prepared to deal with Zika

The Minister of Health and Medical Services, Hon. Jone Usamate made a ministerial statement in Parliament saying his ministry is prepared to deal with the Zika Virus to the best of his ability if it comes to Fiji. Hon. Usamate said the Zika virus was not as deadly compared to dengue and chicken gunyah. Over […]

Peni Shute

February 10, 2016 1:35 pm

The Minister of Health and Medical Services, Hon. Jone Usamate made a ministerial statement in Parliament saying his ministry is prepared to deal with the Zika Virus to the best of his ability if it comes to Fiji.

Hon. Usamate said the Zika virus was not as deadly compared to dengue and chicken gunyah.

Over the past few weeks we have noticed the increasing discussions in the paper about Zika virus, so I thought this afternoon I’ll talk about Zika on its impact and the effect that it is having. Zika is something that has been around for some time in the world it was first seen in 1947. But the Zika virus itself has been known to be reoccurring in Africa and Asia. Recently over the past few weeks, you would have noticed allot of concern about Zika. Zika is very similar to Dengue and Chicken Gunya, but the effect of Zika and people is far less than the effect of dengue to death.

Minister Usamate said Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites, and it affects brain development for unborn babies resulting in microcephaly and brain damage. The risk to pregnant women is most significant because of the effects on their unborn babies.

Dengue, for instance, can lead to bleeding and can lead to death, Chicken Gunya can be much more paralysing but Zika can be very mild. According to the statistics that I have been shown, only 1 in 5 people that get Zika actually feel that they are sick. Most people may get the Zika virus but they don’t feel sick at all, they continue on with their lives.

Minister Usamate said it is important that all medical practitioners, all doctors that are serving in the private and public establishments are to report any increase of the suspected disease immediately.

What have we been doing so far? I think the message to do with anything to do with mosquito borne diseases, is the main thing to do is to eliminate the breeding and that has been a program happening since late last year.

Minister Usamate said the central message is that if we don’t have mosquitoes, then we don’t have the disease itself.

We have enhanced our surveillance mosquito control systems, we have 12 sentinel sites around Fiji where we are collecting information from people on suspected Zika, and their blood samples are being collected for testing.

The health minister emphasized that all this was targeted at eliminating mosquitoes and advising people to promote personal protective measures to reduce exposure to mosquito bites.

Usamate said Zika can only be contracted through mosquito bites and not through sexual intercourse because it has not been scientifically confirmed.

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