Health authorities have a new Ebola challenge on their hands.
Opposition Spokesman Maria Agard is claiming that special protection suits, which are to be worn by medical personnel dealing with suspected Ebola patients, are too small and will not last for more than four days.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Shadow Minister for Health reported that she and St Thomas MP Cynthia Forde had met Minister of Health John Boyce and other health officials on October 15 and had subsequently spoken to persons in the health sector.
“They said to me, ‘we have 800 suits, but they too small’,” Agard reported during a panel discussion that formed part of the BLP’s 76th annual conference last weekend.
“So you have a Minister of Health assuring that they have all the suits ready, but he did not tell you they are too small. They only have small, medium and large, and the average Barbadian is extra large, and 2X,” Agard said.
“What is the worth of having suits, 800 of them, that are too small?” she asked, warning, “You are putting your health care workers at risk.”
Agard, a dentist by profession, said that at the meeting with Boyce assurances were given that personal protection equipment was in place for 38 health care workers, who were continuing training and preparation in the likelihood that Ebola reached these shores.
However, Agard further cautioned that in the event of any Ebola cases, “you need to have your team in order. You cannot use 800 suits for 38 people and expect them to last longer than three or four days, because those suits need to be changed frequently.
“When we speak about our team and that our team is ready, we must be certain that every single measure of protection we can put in place is there, and I am not satisfied that has been achieved,” she said.
Agard said ministry officials had also informed her that the proposed isolation unit at Enmore was designed as a dangerous infectious disease unit (DID).
However, she asked: “Which of you would construct a DID right next to a school?
“It is a travesty; it is reckless. But today you have a Minister of Health who tells us proudly that they have got an isolation unit under construction and it is safe and ready for use . . . There could be no worse place for the location of a [DID] unit than right next to a school,”