KINGSTON – The Ministry of Health in Jamaica will require all pregnant women to be tested for the Zika virus.
“When a woman is tested positive for being pregnant and she has to go through the initial stages of testing, we are going to require her to also do a Zika test, so that we can track, as part of the monitoring,” Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton announced on Tuesday.
An unborn child is at high risk of developing microcephaly – an abnormal smallness of the head, which is associated with incomplete brain development – if the mother is infected with the Zika virus during her pregnancy.
Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare, neurological disorder which causes muscle weakness and, in severe cases, paralysis and breathing problems, and the Ministry of Health is therefore preparing the Intensive Care Units and High Dependency areas at hospitals across the country in the event that persons are diagnosed with that illness.
“We will be getting additional ventilators; we will procure more and repair others that are not presently functioning,” Dr. Tufton said.
He had previously announced that his ministry, through the National Health Fund, would provide J$1 million (US$8,014) to each Member of Parliament to support Zika activities at the constituency level up to the end of August.
Up to a week and a half ago, 21 people, including two pregnant women had tested positive for the Zika virus.