31st January, 2016
The Ministry of Health announced on Friday a ‘national health emergency’ over the Zika virus. The
WHO has expressed concern about the virus due to:
• a possible link to birth defects like mircroencephaly (babies born with abnormally small
heads) and brain syndromes like Guillain- Barre Syndrome
• the prospect of further spread as it has now spread to 23 countries since the first case was
announced in Brazil in May 2015
• a lack of immunity among people living in the newly affected areas – most of which are
developing countries with poor resources,
• the absence of vaccines/treatments/diagnostic tests for this (and other mosquito borne) viruses
The T&TMA wish to commend the Ministry about it’s proactive response in the setting up of an emergency response unit, involvement of coordinating state agencies, and the increased fogging especially of Carnival site. The Association would also urge citizens to do their own clean up campaign in and around their homes:
• looking for stagnant water collections (drains, water barrels, in the garden etc);
• investing in mosquito nets, especially for pregnant women, children and elderly shut-ins;
• wearing long sleeves and protective clothing when working out doors or around areas with stagnant water;
• the use of mosquito repellants when outdoors at night, since these mosquitoes are predominantly night feeders.
These simple measures will not only help prevent Zika but all mosquito borne viruses, includingDengue which is still a current cause of death for many in our country.
On the issue of women being advised to have abortions due to the threat of birth defects, the T&TMA would like to remind our doctors to adhere to the law of the nation and be advised by the guidelines given in the T&T Medical Board’s Code of Ethics. It should be noted that sections 56 and 57 of the Offences against the Persons Act (Chapter 11:08) prohibit the unlawful procuring of an abortion or assisting in procuring an abortion.
Agents for Medical Protection Society
If an abortion is deemed medically necessary, it can be lawfully performed by a physician if the procedure will preserve the life or health (including the mental health), of the mother. The doctor performing the procedure must obtain agreement in writing from at least one senior colleague – usually another Consultant Obstetrician – that the procedure is medically warranted. The MBTT Code of Ethics goes on to specific that “rape, incest or severe foetal abnormality are not of themselves a good indication for an abortion unless they threaten the life or physical or mental health of the woman involved.” (http://www.mbtt.org/CodeOfEthics_Responsibilities_to_profession.htm)
For more information about this virus, please see the WHO Zika Virus fact sheet on:
WHO Zika Virus Fact Sheet
Dr Liane Conyette
T&TMA PRO 2016