Measles outbreak in neighboring countries has put Solomon Islands at a risk of a measles outbreak as well.
The Permanent Secretary (PS) of Health, Ms Polini McNeil in a correspondence to update Minister of Health, stated that;
"The actions and measures that the Ministry of Health and Medical Services will undertake are based on meetings held on a weekly basis on the current situation and resource availability."
The MHMS recommended actions are under 2 broad overheads which are;
(1) Strengthen surveillance of Acute Fever and Rash in Solomon Islands, and
(2) Immunization on priority areas.
(1) STRENGTHEN SURVEILLANCE OF ACUTE FEVER AND RASH IN SOLOMON ISLANDS
The following actions and measures aim at strengthening surveillance of Measles in Solomon Islands.
1. A new surveillance site at Nila Area Health Center is being established and currently the Public Health Emergency and Surveillance Unit (PHESU) Surveillance team is providing training for the surveillance officers in Nila. This was completed on the 28th of Oct to 1st of November 2019 by the PHESU team on site.
2. Sensitize and train the Health Care Workers (HCW) for early recognition of Measles signs and symptoms.
3. It was expressed that the current rate of reporting of any person presenting and complaining of Acute Fever and Rash (AFR) is less than recommended level of 2 non-measles non-rubella cases per 100,000 population.
The HCW are taking a decision not to report since they believe it is not measles cases. It is desirable that refresher training of surveillance officer may be conducted for measles and outbreak management training. This will be done by Public Health Emergency and Surveillance Unit (PHESU) and Expanded Program on Immunisation (EPI) both units from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
4. Issue an alert for health care facilities: Already done by the Undersecretary Health Improvement.
5. Joint investigations and increased collaboration between PHESU and EPI to strengthen AFR surveillance. Done by Public Health Emergency and Surveillance Unit(PHESU) and National Expanded Immunisation Program(EPI), MHMS.
6. Assess and strengthen laboratory specimen referral system. National Referral Hospital Laboratory and National Expanded Program on Immunisation Team to collectively be responsible for this.
(B) IMMUNIZATION INTENSIFY AT RECOMMENDED PRIORITY AREAS
MHMS has embarked on an intense National Supplementary Immunisation set of activities.
This is to "Strengthen ongoing SIA and consider focus on “HOT-SPOTS” to receive immunization for all children 6 months to 6 years; (Action: Currently Ongoing- National Expanded Program on Immunisation.)
1. Vaccination for selected groups including:
a. Seaport and airport frontline staff.
b. Solomon Islanders going to affected areas as part of Government Delegation for sporting and cultural events and those likely to participate in mass gatherings.
c. Solomon Islanders going as seasonal workers: The cost to be negotiated with the private company responsible for sending the workers.
d. Students returning returning from studies abroad.
e. Solomon Airlines staff.
Actions related to 5 "HOT-SPOTS" above are:
1. To be confirmed with advice to Senior Health Executive meeting on Friday 16th November.
2. Procurement of additional doses of measles vaccine: A calculation will be made once we have received anticipated number of people in these risk groups.
The groups to be vaccinated will be based on cost-benefit analysis. EPI and Quarantine Division to discuss with relevant departments to get approximate number of people in these groups to do quantification for procurement and costing.
Travel clinic to be set up at strategic areas. This will be determined in technical meetings between Ministry of Health and Medical Services, WHO and UNICEF.
Measures at the points of entry will be advised from the technical meetings and priority will also be focused on the 7 following measures and risk mitigation actions below.
(A) Information sheet/ posters for inbound travellers. Action to be carried out by EPI and Health Promotion Team of MHMS.
(B) Health Declaration Card for inbound travellers. Action to be carried out by Quarantine Division and World Health Organisation (WHO).
(C) Development of SOPs and Protocols for handling sick person at the Ports of Entry. Action to be carried out by Quarantine Division and WHO.
(D) Arrangement at NRH or any other clinic for isolation facilities. Action to be carried out by Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
(E) Travel advisory for outbound travellers: People who aren’t immune and have early symptoms of measles (fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes and/or a rash) shouldn’t travel. Action to be carried out EPI, Quarantine Division and WHO.
(F) Sensitization of staff at the airport for recognition of measles. Action to be carried out by Quarantine Division and WHO.
(G) Table-top Exercise for Point of Entry (PoE). It will be undertaken during PoE inter-sectoral workshop on November 4 and 5, 2019 and will be done by Quarantine Division and WHO.
Risk Communications will also be a focus, this will be generated by MHMS and will include informative posters and information leaflets for inbound passengers. This will be the responsibility of Quarantine, Health Promotion (HP) and EPI Teams.
Posters on relevant information will be displayed at the healthcare facilities for sensitization of HCW and this will be organized by the HP and EPI Teams.
PS Health further stated that, "Our response and preparedness team is meeting every week to review plans and implementation so far. We have been also updating John Wasi and PMO."
Source: Press Release