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PAHO Checks Cholera Preparedness

(R) Health Minister Mark Scotland, JP speaks with Dr. Robert Lee.

While there is a need for continued vigilance, a Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) Disaster Response Team visiting Cayman this week said it found local cholera-preparedness to be “very good”.

Dr. Robert Lee, who led the three-member delegation, told Health Minister, the Hon. Mark Scotland, JP, “The Cayman surveillance system is unique in the Americas…I can’t think of any way to improve it.”

The Cayman visit was part of a project sponsored by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID), to assist overseas territories in their readiness for a cholera threat.

The visit of the team, including Dr. Frederique Marodon and Mr. Yvan Grayel of the DFID, was facilitated by Cayman’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar. In conclusion, they shared their findings with the Health Minister, as well as Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn.

Dr. Frederique Marodon leads discussions.

“The Cayman Islands has a low probability of the introduction and a relatively low probability of transmission of cholera,” said Dr. Lee.

He added, “It’s good to see confirmation that your systems are well-developed. In the event of a few cases, your hospital can manage them, as it is designed with great flexibility – which is also unique in the region.”

Cholera is primarily contracted by consuming contaminated drinking water or food, with the main symptoms being profuse watery diarrhea” and  vomiting.

Having global experience, the team’s current assignment is in this region following the cholera outbreak in Haiti. That pandemic has resulted in over 400,000 cases and many deaths. While cases are now declining there, neighbouring Dominican Republic recently saw a spike in cholera following the summer rains.

The visitors toured the Cayman Islands Hospital, examined plans involving other agencies, and met with senior officials and Health Services Authority (HSA) staff members, including the Cholera Response Team. The Cholera case management training was conducted for about 45 members of a multidisciplinary team.

The team confirmed that a good monitoring system in place, and that there is close collaboration with the Cayman Water Authority and the Department of Environmental Health.

Seated (L-R) Dr. Robert Lee, Health Minister Mark Scotland, JP, and Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn, with (standing from left) Dr. Frederique Marodon, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar and Mr. Yvan Grayel.

Happy with the “validation that Cayman’s medical personnel are very motivated, trained, and familiar with dealing with such an emergency”, Dr. Marodon cautioned that management of water supplies and waste-water are key considerations in this disease.

The visitors offered advice on assessing the risks posed to residents with poor water supply, discharge and sanitation; as well as the need for closer monitoring of ground-water tables – where bacterial contamination can occur.

Minster Scotland thanked the scientists for lending their expertise and applauded the continued work of local health-service professionals and related stakeholders.



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