Health Ministry not withholding information on dengue cases, says JMDA

The Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) has said it does not believe the Ministry of Health is withholding information on dengue cases in the country to avoid causing panic.

At the same time, JMDA President Dr. Elon Thompson said the Ministry has a responsibility to provide information to the public, except in sensitive circumstances. 

Dr. Thompson acknowledged that there are criteria for categorising a disease as an outbreak.

However, he said, with the increase in dengue cases this year, he understands why the word would be used.

"It may be not the word to use from an epidemiological standpoint but the numbers are increasing and we cannot deny that; and the population has a right to be afraid because, you know, nobody wants to get any diseases," he argued. 

On Tuesday, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton confirmed that four babies died of suspected dengue at Bustamante Hospital for Children in the last few days.

Dr. Tufton also said that up to Tuesday, there were about 20 suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease at the hospital.

Opposition Spokesman on Health Dr. Dayton Campbell has said the Health Ministry is downplaying the severity of the crisis and is urging the government to implement emergency measures to tackle dengue haemorrhagic fever.

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