Shortage of dengue testing kits - but Health Minister says this is not a priority

November 08, 2019
Dr Christopher Tufton
Dr Christopher Tufton
Dr Elon Thompson
Dr Elon Thompson

Though there has been over 50 suspected dengue deaths for the 2018-2019 period, President of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) Elon Thompson has confirmed that there is a shortage of dengue testing kits on the island. There have been 5,468 reported cases of dengue in Jamaica since the start of the year.

Thompson told THE WEEKEND STAR that he does not know if and when more kits will be restocked on the island.

"I would not know if there are kits coming in soon and the authorities that we have asked about it, have no clue. I don't know where they are sourced from. I don't know if it is that they are purchased through the Ministry of Health. I just know that all around the supply is limited and it have to do with the number of cases that we are seeing. Maybe we have underestimated how many we would have needed. It is a problem though, I can tell you that," he said.

However, Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, stated he was told by the Chief Medical Officer that the kits are probably 30 per cent accurate, so persons who suspect that they have dengue, should seek the advice of a doctor.

Doctor's assessment

"The kits are not a priority for us. It is not even recommended that it becomes an overly used or requested item. What is most important for us is that persons seek their doctors immediately and that the doctor's assessment will determine immediate treatment." Tufton said.

Tufton continued: "We don't want the society or people to overplay the kits. What they need to do is see the doctor and get the doctor's diagnosis and recommended treatment. It is the doctor's clinical diagnosis based on symptoms; rash, the fever, the headache that would require an immediate response. If you need to do a blood test to confirm, which takes time, we do that but the truth is, the safer way is to treat based on symptoms. The most important thing is for the patient to see a doctor as soon as possible if they have symptoms because if they wait, it can get worse," Tufton said.

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