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Health officials stage polio outbreak simulation

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Health officials took part in a polio outbreak simulation exercise (Photograph supplied)

Bermuda recently took part in a polio outbreak simulation to enhance the island’s preparedness after the disease was detected in the UK, America and Israel.

The Ministry of Health hosted the one-day Polio Outbreak Simulation Exercise on January 10, bringing stakeholders from across the health sector to review the Bermuda Polio Outbreak Preparedness and Response Plan.

It a multi-agency plan developed in conjunction with the World Health Organisation while conforming to global best practices.

Ayoola Oyinloye, the Chief Medical Officer, said: “Bermuda has an excellent track record in polio control.”

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ayoola Oyinloye (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Dr Oyinloye added: “We are largely protected as we have high rates of polio vaccinations, a longstanding polio surveillance system and have been polio-free since 1970.”

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, added: “Bermuda also has a proud history of contributing to global efforts to control polio.

“Between 1986 and 1988, Bermudian Walter Maddocks headed the Rotary International’s Polio Plus programme and led a campaign that raised $264 million – far exceeding their $100 million target, contributing to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

“We are pleased with our record. However, we must be fully prepared for any potential event to protect our population and to comply with international health regulations.”

Updates to the plan

The Ministry of Health is currently making recommendations for updates to the Polio Outbreak Preparedness and Response Plan based on learning from the exercise.

Healthcare professionals are reminded of their legal requirement to immediately report any suspected cases of acute flaccid paralysis to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit.

According to the ministry, there was environmental detection of the disease last year.

The simulation also tested the operational realities of executing the plan.

Dr Oyinloye added: “I want to thank everyone who participated in this important exercise, which was built upon the sector-wide collaboration developed during Covid-19.

“We learnt what worked and where the gaps were, and bringing in our essential stakeholders outside of health, such as the Commissioner of Education, the Emergency Measures Organisation, the hospital and third-sector representation, ensures that we can appropriately respond to any public health threat, not just polio.

“Our stakeholders were able to bring their organisations’ perspectives to the exercise, including the requirement for timely, accurate and authoritative information for schools, other childcare settings and the public.”

The ministry said that individuals can best protect themselves from polio by ensuring they are up to date with routine polio vaccination.

For more information on polio, visit https://www.gov.bm/health-information.

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Published January 18, 2023 at 7:38 am (Updated January 18, 2023 at 7:38 am)

Health officials stage polio outbreak simulation

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