BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - Although, to date, there have been no suspected or confirmed cases of cholera in Barbados, the Ministry of Health is maintaining a heightened state of vigilance in response to the reported ongoing outbreak in Haiti.
During the past few weeks, health authorities in Barbados have been proactive in undertaking measures to ensure that the health care system is adequately prepared to respond to any possible threat posed by an outbreak of cholera in a neighbouring country.
The Ministry has taken steps to ensure that health care providers are adequately sensitised about the symptoms and treatment of cholera. This includes the distribution of treatment protocols to private and public sector doctors; specific training for public sector doctors and nurses as well as surveillance training sessions for key stakeholders at all ports of entry.
Additionally, an early warning surveillance system - the Burden of Food Borne Illness Study - has been ongoing in Barbados for the past several months. Enhanced surveillance has also been implemented at ports of entry, and laboratory support has been provided to aid in the rapid identification of any suspected cases that may arise.
In Barbados, cholera is listed as a notifiable disease. This means that any suspected or confirmed cases must be reported to the Ministry of Health. Environmental health surveillance measures are, therefore, ongoing and have been earmarked for further enhancement, if the need arises. Public health institutions have also been alerted to provide the requisite care for any infected persons, and adequate treatment supplies have been identified.
Additional measures include an enhanced public education campaign which emphasizes prevention, as well as recognition of symptoms and the seeking of treatment at an early stage.
In Barbados, while travel restrictions have not been implemented for persons traveling to Haiti, individuals have been cautioned against non-essential travel to that country and advised to take all necessary precautions with respect to the use of only safe sources of food and drink.