January 6, 2007 – Bridgetown, Barbados
As Jamaica continues to battle with an outbreak of malaria, one health consultant has warned the region that it is facing a more resistant strain of the disease. “The malaria vector, the female Anopheles mosquito, over the years has become resistant to some of our interventions, some of the insecticides that are used, and in addition to that the parasite itself has become and is becoming resistant to some of the treatment that we use as well,” said Dr. Nicholas Adomakoh, clinical consultant for infectious diseases with the Barbados Ministry of Health. “So eradicating the vector and certainly treating the parasite itself is becoming more difficult with time,” A total of 194 cases of malaria have been reported in Jamaica since December 1, last year. Dr. Adomakoh said the ease of travel coupled with other factors contributed to the re-emergence of the mosquito-borne illness in the region.His comments came as health officials in Barbados attended a workshop on malaria designed to ensure that malaria remained out of the country and that all public health laboratories across the island were adequately prepared to deal with the disease. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joy St. John said malaria was a major public health threat and the response to the disease had to be multi-pronged. “There has to be prevention, there has to be education and there has to be treatment.
The workshop is just an example of education and the role the laboratory has to play in the surveillance and the confirmation of diagnosis of malaria is very important in Barbados,” she said. “Malaria is one of those diseases that is a great imitator, and if there is not the index of suspicion and the confirmation of results by a properly functioning laboratory network, then Barbados is all the more threatened,” Dr. St. John added. Dr. St. John confirmed that currently there were no cases of malaria in the country and she added that Barbados was taking every precaution to ensure it stays malaria-free. “The surveillance that is part of the Cricket World Cup has been kicked in by this threat and this workshop is also going to strengthen our efforts for that time because we do have visitors coming from malaria endemic countries,” she said.