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Jamaica: Health Ministry Addresses Concerns About Shortage Of Dengue Testing Kits

By Jamaica Gleaner

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Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie – File photo

(JAMAICA GLEANER) —  The Ministry of Health and Wellness says the shortage of Dengue Rapid test kits does not affect the ability to submit samples to the relevant laboratories for testing.

Some players in the health sector including President of the Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Association Elon Thompson have raised concerns about the shortage.

While acknowledging the concerns, the Ministry says cases of suspected samples are tested either at the National Public Health Laboratory in Jamaica or at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) using the World Health Organization/ Pan American Health Organization (WHO/PAHO) recommended methods of testing.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, in a statement, indicated that the Ministry has not utilised these rapid test kits for testing as there is considerable variability in the sensitivity and specificity of the kits.

“The dengue test kits that are being used in the private sector must be interpreted with caution as the timing of dengue tests are key to the detection of the virus or the immune response caused by Dengue,” Bisasor McKenzie said.

The Ministry says the treatment of Dengue Fever is not dependent on a positive or negative test.

“All persons who display symptoms of dengue are to be treated and managed according to the symptoms that are present. All precautions are to be taken and patients and their caregivers should be advised appropriately to look for warning signs of severe dengue and take action as necessary,” Bisasor McKenzie said.

The Ministry notes that there is no specific cure for dengue, adding that laboratory diagnosis is not needed for treatment.

Treatment, it says, is determined based on symptoms and signs that are present.

The Ministry says laboratory testing during an outbreak is done periodically to determine the type of dengue virus that is circulating and to detect if a new virus is also causing the disease.

“Early treatment of dengue is key. This is not dependent on a laboratory diagnosis. Members of the public are to visit their doctor or health centre and health care workers must focus on the symptoms to make the diagnosis and treat accordingly,” said Bisasor McKenzie.

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