In an effort to respond to health issues associated with the Zika virus in a timely manner, government has taken measures to ensure that pregnant women are given the best care as their unborn babies are most at risk.
This was indicated by Minister of Health, Nicholas Steele during a recent post-Cabinet Press briefing held at the Ministerial Complex in the Botanical Gardens.
A lab for the testing of the Zika virus is in Grenada and pregnant women are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity provided to them.
The lab will be in Grenada for two months in the first instance with no cost to government.
This has been made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Health and an overseas organisation known as Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA).
Minister Steele, explained to reporters why the step was taken to involve WAHA in the initiative.
“The reason that we have requested this and negotiated this with WAHA is that we wanted to speed up the process of testing here in Grenada. In the past when we’ve had other breakouts or epidemics, there has been a delay based on capacity and the fact that blood has to be sent to CARPHA in Trinidad for testing, there is a delay of a couple days to a week.
“…That prevents us from reacting in a timely manner. Now that we have a lab here in Grenada we can react in a timely manner to the presence if and when it (Zika) does show up here in Grenada. We have taken further steps because of the partnership with WAHA to make sure as I would like to put it “every dark cloud has a silver lining”.
According to Minister Steele, the plan is to go out to the various health centres in the different communities to meet the pregnant mothers.
“There will be a schedule that will be released in terms of each community, which individuals from Ministry of Health and the Zika response team, to visit the community centres and where possible to visit the homes of pregnant women to do the test there,” he said.
The senior government minister is confident that the partnership with WAHA will result in an immediate improvement in maternity care in Grenada.
“This week as I said will be the testing of all pregnant mothers, the testing will be for blood as well as for all echogram for mothers because there is an associated risk with small head or brain development of fetuses – we want to do that echogram for all pregnant women.
“…However, that means that all pregnant women in Grenada will have received an echogram from a world class consultant which will complement whatever they have received here from our very qualified health care providers as well.
The Health Minister also announced that there will be increased surveillance in communities that are believed to be mosquito-breeding sites.
“So there will be additional personnel allocated to that over the next couple of days. For that there will be an increased schedule of fogging but it will be a smart increase schedule of fogging. The intention is to identify risk areas…identify areas where there are risks of Zika virus,” he said.
Both neighbouring states of Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago have reported confirmed cases of the Zika virus.