Although the Ministry of Health is reporting a steady decrease in persons affected with the Chikungunya virus, it has decided to organise counseling sessions for emotionally affected persons.
This was disclosed by Minister of Health, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing held at the Ministerial complex recently.
The female government minister who is the Member of Parliament for St. Mark has been under fire for the ministry’s handling of the Chik-V crisis with one radio talk show host staging a protest march in the city last week calling for her resignation.
Minister Modeste-Curwen said that her Ministry was so absorbed in looking at getting rid of the mosquitoes that are blamed for causing Chik-V that it did not give any consideration to the psychological and emotional impact of the virus on the population.
The Minister of Health announced that these counseling sessions would give people a chance to vent their feelings on the issue without holding back.
A medical doctor by profession, Minister Modeste-Curwen seemed to support the theory being advanced by some private medical practitioners in the country that other viral infections are at work on the island and affecting a number of persons.
She told reporters that some of the joint pains being experienced by several locals “may well be caused by other viral illnesses”.
“The thing about Chikungunya is that in some instances people have it for a day or two and then they’re good – some are not even sure if they had it at all …”, she said.
“…There are some who have it (the pain) in varying degrees but some people when they feel it’s over and they feel better, a few days, a few weeks, it returns and that is one of the features of Chikungunya and after a while people become frustrated,” she added.
Noting that the Chik-v has helped to restrict the joint movement of some persons, Minister Modeste-Curwen said: “…You know if you have just pain, you might brave the pain and get up but it restricts the joints in such a way that you cannot even get up”.
“…I want to take this opportunity to say to our people the Neighborhood Watch has to come in, not only for littering but also for other people because some people have been in their beds for one whole day or two days before it was observed that these people were missing in action,” she told reporters.
“If you have a neighbour, look out for them, you don’t see them, it might be that their joints are too stiff to move but this (Chik-V) is fast going away but the lingering sort of thing is still there so people feel frustrated, people feel cheated, people are probably angry with the Minister, with the government and they have to look for somebody to blame so we have to be prepared to take that kind of blame but it is expected in a situation like that,” she said.
In an effort to educate the public who have been hitting out at the lack of information from the ministry, the female government minister indicated that they have been speaking to Psychologists, Counselors in government employ and relevant persons in the Ministries of Health, Education, and Social Services on the Chik-V crisis that was affecting Grenada.
“…We are also speaking to the private sector, SGU (St. George’s University) and other individuals and next week God’s willing we will start having counseling opportunities to help those who feel that they really need that kind of support to cope with the disease and by the first clinics that we hold, we will have an indication of the great need for it,” she told the press conference.
Minister Modeste-Curwen conceded that sometimes by just talking to an affected someone that is enough to get them through a particular given situation.
Meanwhile, President of the Grenada Employers Federation (GEF), Cecil Edwards has released some figures to give the nation an idea as to the financial loses incurred by the nation due to the Chik-V epidemic.
Edwards said a sample survey conducted on behalf of GEF among 31% of the membership plus one non-member shows that out of 932 employees, 152 females and 151 males were affected by the chick v virus.
He said that 1,459 days were lost due to sickness.
Government officials have claimed that some workers have been taking advantage of the health situation to stay away from work on the excuse of being affected by the virus.
Two weeks ago, Health Minister Modeste-Curwen informed the media that she was told by a member of the private sector that he received a sick leave certificate from one of his employees but then was able to see that individual in “Town”.
Edwards said he has not had any experience of people scheming from work as a result of the virus.
The GEF president indicated that he has had reports from at least two members who answered the survey that some workers who were feeling unwell refused to remain at home and found themselves at their work places.
The Chikungunya virus is carried by mosquitoes. The symptoms are headaches, fever and pain of the joints.