Carib Health & Wealth

PAHO receives award for eliminating measles, rubella in the Caribbean

WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) | The Pan American Health Organization has been presented with the Measles and Rubella Initiative Champion Award for its work in eliminating measles and rubella from the Americas, including the Caribbean. PAHO said measles was declared eliminated from the Americas in 2016, following the declaration of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) elimination in 2015.

It said the region was the first in the world to have eliminated all three diseases, culminating a 22-year effort involving mass vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella throughout the Americas. “We are extremely grateful for this award for measles and rubella elimination, but we know we can’t let down our guard yet. Cases of measles still circulate in other regions of the world,” said PAHO Dominican- born director Dr Carissa Etienne.

“Continued vaccination, strengtheningidemiological surveillance, and increasing communication with communities are the best way to prevent measles,” she added. Etienne accepted the award at the annual Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) Partners’ Meeting here. PAHO was nominated for the award by M&RI planning committee members, including the American Red Cross, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO), GAVI and UN Foundation.

“PAHO’s accomplishments in measles and rubella elimination mark two important things,” said Dr. Mary Agocs, senior advisor of the M&RI at the American Red Cross.

“Firstly, they have shown the world that it is, indeed, possible to eliminate measles and rubella. Secondly, they have provided a blueprint on how it can be don Before widespread measles vaccination began in 1980, PAHO said measles caused 2.6 million deaths a year throughout the world, 12,000 of them in the Americas. It also said that before mass-scale rubella vaccination, an estimated 16,000 to more than 20,000 children were born with CRS each year in Latin America and the Caribbean, while more than 158,000 rubella cases were reported in 1997 alone. PAHO said its measles elimination strategy had recommended three lines of action for countries: Conduct a one-time national campaign to bring children between 1 and 14 years of age up to date with measles vaccination; strengthen routine vaccination to reach a minimum of 95 percent of children every year; and undertake massive follow-up campaigns every four years, to reach a minimum of 95 percent of children aged 1 to 4 with a second dose of vaccine.

In the late 1990s, PAHO said the English- speaking Caribbean countries pioneered the use of mass rubella vaccination campaigns targeting adolescents and adults.

With support from PAHO and its Revolving Fund for Vaccine Procurement, which helps countries procure vaccines at lower cost, some 250 million adolescents and adults in 32 countries and territories were vaccinated against rubella between 1998 and 2008.

Caribbean countries to benefit from support for drug treatment

KINGSTON, Jamaica – (CMC) | Six Caribbean countries will benefit from an additional CAN$833 000 in financial support from the Government of Canada for the monitoring and evaluation of drug treatment courts The countries are Jamaica, Barbados, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

The funding, which is to be provided over the next two years, will also help the countries to consider options related to juvenile treatment courts and community courts.

Counsellor and Head of Development Cooperation, Canadian High Commission in Jamaica, Walter Bernyck, made the disclosure at the opening of a regional workshop on drug treatment courts here on Wednesday. He noted that through its Anti-Crime Capacity Building Programme, Canada has been a long-term supporter towards implementing drug treatment courts in the region.

He pointed out that between 2011 and 2015, the country provided CAN$1.8 million in financial support to Barbados, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic to establish such treatment models. Bernyck also congratulated the countries on their work to maintain the programme. “You’re part of the vanguard, really looking at alternatives to incarceration and how we can better address problematic substance abuse,” he said.

In Jamaica, drug treatment courts are designed to provide judicial supervision to drug-dependent offenders who have consented to participate in the programme. They benefit from a course of treatment and regular monitoring by the court to ensure that they abstain from drugs.

Hosted by the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Government of Jamaica, the threeday workshop focuses on the expansion of drug treatment courts in the Caribbean. It is being organised by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), the Court Management Services, and the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), with the support of the CARICOM Secretariat and the Government of Canada.

Delegates from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago are in attendance. The workshop is intended to train experts from the health and justice sectors on drug treatment courts as an alternative to incarceration for juvenile and adult drug offenders.