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MOHW begins talks with PAHO to procure Monkeypox Vaccines

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has begun dialoguing with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to procure vaccines for monkeypox. Over the weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency after a worldwide surge in cases. The viral zoonotic disease was recently detected in neighbouring Mexico which prompted the Ministry to be on high alert. Earlier today, the Director of Public Health and Wellness, Dr. Melisa Diaz Musa spoke about how the ministry is taking measures to prevent the virus from entering Belize.

Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa, Director of Public Health and Wellness: “With Monkeypox  the surveillance is quite different than that of COVID-19. So you hear the word surveillance and that has continued. We do have enhanced surveillance more at our healthcare facilities. So it has been moved a little bit more now from the borders and now in our private and public healthcare facilities and the way we have improved this is that we have sensitised staff throughout the Ministry of Health. We’ve also done sensitisation with the private sector as well. Which means that we have done training on Monkeypox, how to detect it, how to do the testing and how to isolate. So these are very important aspects of ensuring that surveillance is enchanted so the doctors and nurses who are seeing patients who might meet that criteria are able to think about monkeypox and do the testing very quickly. We have also started with some FAQs, some social media educational material as well and we do advise the public that if you do feel ill, if you do have joint pains, fatigue, and you notice a rash that fits the description of monkeypox, to please come to your nearest facility. With regards to the Monkeypox vaccines, we work as a region, the Region of the Americas. We’re supported by PAHO, WHO, and we have started the communication or the conversation with regards to vaccines. There is currently, we are not saying and WHO has not advised that there is mass vaccination campaigns to occur. The vaccines should be mainly for those with close contacts and in addition to tha, it’s not mass vaccinations of everybody who are close contacts so we are now in communication with PAHO and we are trying to see if we can procure some but this will come with some limitations as well. What I’d like to say is that our Central Medical Lab, we have built capacity in our lab techs, and we are able to do Monkeypox testing in country. The only thing we can’t do is to determine what variant it is but we are getting help through Baylor College, through COMISCA, as well as CARFA, in order to help us if we do detect a case to determine what variant or what claim it is.”