WHO MEETING EXAMINES PACIFIC DENGUE

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Samoa records lower numbers in September

By Pio Sioa

APIA, Samoa (Newsline Samoa Newspaper, Sept. 27, 2008) - The Samoa Ministry of Health is predicting a drop in the number of dengue fever cases for the month of September , but is at the same time concerned that the General Practitioners are not reporting all the cases.

So whether the number of cases are down or up is unclear, except that in a media release the Ministry believes that ‘ fewer numbers will be recorded in the current month of September’.

The head count so far of new cases recorded for September is down to a mere 57 people compared to the staggering figures of 219 in July and 281 in August, when dengue fever struck a marked jump in the country.

The Ministry warns about being complacent because the ‘fewer reported numbers should not be viewed as being an indication that the outbreak of the disease is subsiding."

A Communicable Disease Control Committee set up by the Ministry to monitor the spread of the disease are already drafting future strategies to ‘improve the surveillance of infectious diseases in Samoa, particularly with regards to preparing for future outbreaks’.

A better and improved role for Health Workers involved in tropical diseases, patient and health information, are in the priority list.

Closer working links are to be encouraged for ‘public health workers, clinicians and laboratory services’ as well as the reporting of disease outbreaks.

‘Identifying beforehand the resources required to deal with potential outbreaks,’ is also recommended as part of the larger strategy.

The call for preventative measures against the disease is still in effect, like destroying breeding sites.

Claims already made public that dengue fever is already a pandemic remains to be declared officially.

"A regional meeting of the West Pacific Region of the World Health Organisation is currently underway in the Philippines, where any official declaration of a pandemic should come from," says acting Chief Executive Officer, Professor Pelenatete Stowers says. "The Minister of Health and our CEO are currently attending the meeting where the dengue fever situation is one of the issues under discussion."

The Acting CEO maintains the Ministry belief that the disease jumped noticeably soon after the Pacific Arts Festival in American Samoa, when participants from around the region returned home.

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