By RIEL MAJOR
THE BAHAMAS Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson is calling for the Ministry of Health to establish a protocol relating to tuberculosis, scabies or any communicable diseases.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the National Tripartite Council general assembly Friday, Mrs Wilson said she has been communicating very frequently with Dr Duane Sands about the cases of tuberculosis or suspected tuberculosis in A F Adderley Junior High School and Government High School.
Mrs Wilson said: "From the Ministry of Education’s perspective there has to be a protocol put in place as to how it is that they would operate when matters of this nature happen. Because it’s always the union having to call and to say to the Shop Stewart to say to the principal can you have a briefing with the staff, can you call the health team, could we make sure that the suspected children are identified and given the Mantoux test.
"When you talk about the tuberculosis (TB) or scabies or any communicable diseases then everyone is not running around trying to figure out what to do. But (we should) have the protocol in place on how it is we will resolve it. Thus far I’ve been in communication with the Shop Stewart and the assistant Shop Stewart at those schools."
Mrs Wilson said the teachers have been alerted and are moving forward, chest x-rays will be done.
"Based on the results of the X-rays, it will then be 14 days for the clearance as to whether they are positive. And if they need to do the six months treatment, if there is a need for the six months treatment. I’ve asked Dr Sands to identify a clinic and a specific time for our teachers to be able to go to get the treatment. And not (throw) them into the general population, so that is something we will discuss.
"We have expressed to our teachers to try as best as they can to be safe. Education and health must work along with the union so we can have protocols in place so we can deal with these matters going forth and almost seamlessly."
Her comments came after, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands confirmed on Thursday that of almost 200 people screened for tuberculosis in two government schools, skin tests for 20 of them have come back from the lab positive.
However, he said this is nothing to be alarmed about.
Dr Sands explained the positive skin tests simply mean that these 20 people spread out between Government High School (GHS) and A F Adderley Junior High School have at some point in their lifetime been exposed to tuberculosis.
As it stands, there remain two active cases of the highly contagious disease between the two schools.
In The Bahamas the rate of tuberculosis was 15 per 100,000 making it a low “incidence” country. While this is considered a low rate it still indicates that tuberculosis has not yet been eliminated in our nation, Dr Sands has said.
Over the past five years, a total of 139 persons were lab confirmed for TB and 157 persons presented with clinical symptoms. All 296 were treated for tuberculosis.
Of that number the data revealed that the majority of the patients were living in New Providence while a few were living in Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and Exuma.