Border protection high on public health agenda

POSTED: 09/14/12 2:56 PM

St. Maarten – More than two dozen delegates converged at the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino yesterday to begin a two day conference on the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). They represented Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the Netherlands, Pan American Health Organization (Paho) and Caribbean Epidemiology Centre headquartered in Trinidad & Tobago.

Public Health Minister Cornelius de Weever officially opened the mini caucus but it was the country reports and presentations made by health officials on their immunization and surveillance efforts that highlighted the day.

All territories face surveillance challenges in preventing measles, mumps and pertusis outbreaks in light of open borders. But on the topic “Guaranteeing Border Protection,” representatives were told that they could prevent people from coming into their territories on the basis of their vaccination status such as the yellow fever vaccination policy in force by the World Health Organization (WHO).

But they would also have to prepare to resolve issues surrounding trans-border movement such as the various levels communication such as inter island technical, governmental and public-private levels.

According to the WHO, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is now the only vaccination certificate that should be required in international travel, and then only for a limited number of persons  Many countries require a valid international certificate of vaccination from travellers, including those in transit, arriving from infected areas or from countries with infected areas. Some countries require a certificate from all entering travellers, even those arriving from countries where there is no risk of yellow fever. Although this exceeds the provisions of International Health Regulations, travellers may find that it is strictly enforced, particularly for people arriving in Asia from Africa or South America. Vaccination is usually strongly advised for travellers outside urban areas of countries in zones where yellow fever is endemic, even if these countries have not officially reported the disease and do not require evidence of vaccination on entry. The actual areas of yellow fever virus activity far exceed the officially reported infected zones.

A practical case of collaboration between French Guiana and Suriname was also presented in terms of the medications that are prescribed for persons based on Dutch and French standards.

Earlier in the day, a SWOT analysis that was carried out with respect to the constitutional change that took place within the Kingdom in 2010 was presented. Statistical information related to the incidence of Hepatitis B/C and the Human Papilloma Virus was also presented by the St. Maarten Laboratory Services.

Some of the presentation to be made today, the final day of the conference is a presentation by Dutch representatives on changes and responsibilities in the program; rationale for the introduction of new vaccines; introduction of the Heel prick; and lessons learned from last coverage surveys.

The conference comes to an end after a round-table discussion on the way forward about strengthening cooperation between islands and international agencies after the constitutional change; experiences and challenges with reaching clients in our small communities; and reaching rubella-negative women for vaccination post-partum.

Did you like this? Share it:
Border protection high on public health agenda by

Comments are closed.