Georgetown, Guyana: The Ministry of Health’s (MOH), Maternal and Child Health Department/ Expanded Programme on Immunization (MCH/EPI), in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), hosted an opening ceremony for a two-day workshop at the Marriott Hotel, in Kingston, Georgetown on May 3, 2023.
The workshop is geared at sensitising and enabling healthcare workers from the Caribbean to have a better understanding of the use and attributes of Measles and Rubella Microarray patches (MR-MAPs) in Guyana and the Caribbean.
As per the update by the ministry, over the two days, representatives from Guyana, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados and Suriname will engage in discussions that can help each country to implement the use of Measles and Rubella Micro Patches within their respective countries.
During his brief remarks, Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony, said that while Guyana and other countries were able to prevent and combat diseases from children, they are still ways that can be adapted to expand the antigens being delivered and implement an alternative way in which it can be effectively administered.
In addition, he highlighted that with traditional vaccinations in Guyana, establishing cold storage, especially in the hinterland regions, was and still is a challenge due to electricity not being able to reach certain villages.
“In the first couple of months before getting the vaccines (Covid-19 Vaccines), we had to completely bill out new cold chain storage for the ultracold vaccines to get it out to the different regions. And, that was a task by itself, trying to do that and right now in some of our communities, we still don’t have electricity, and if you’re going to store vaccines in those communities, what we have turned to be using Solar powered refrigerators and while that has worked, it is always essential if you can find other ways of doing vaccination”, Dr Anthony explained.
The ministry further explained that for these reasons, Minister Anthony said that the initiative of implementing Microarray patches is very innovative and a vital method to deliver routine vaccines with the use of technology.
Meanwhile, PAHO/WHO Representative to Guyana, Dr Luis Felipe Codina, stated that the health sector is seeing a vast transformation with the use of technology in their programme and added that with the Microarray patches, they are needle-free.
He emphasised that eliminating vaccine-preventable diseases is top on the PAHO/WHO’s agenda.
Executive Manager of the Comprehensive Immunization Unit at WHO Washington DC’s, Dr Daniel Salas, stated that Experts from diverse areas of expertise, such as epidemiology, immunology, manufacturing, clinical development, regulatory, first health, economics and policy, are involved in the development of the microarray patch.
He informed the gathering that very soon, the patches will have guided policies for immune vaccines.
“Eventually, in the long term, these vaccines must seek, or even in the midterm, these vaccines must seek WHO pre-qualification and, of course, the power revolving on procurement following licensure of these products and assessments conducted by national regulatory authorities, the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunisation in all the states will also establish policy on the use of these new immune vaccines”, Dr Salas said, as per the update by the ministry.
Officer for Maternal and Child Health, Dr Oneka Scott, who was also present, highlighted that even though Measles have been eliminated from some countries, more measures still need to be taken to keep our people free from Measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
The event was attended by the Director of Primary and Family Health Care Services of the Ministry of Health, Dr Ertenisa Hamilton; Chief Medical Officer, Dr Narine Singh and other representatives from the Ministry of Health and PAHO/WHO-Guyana.