The wisdom in the adage “Prevention is better than cure” is most timely to embrace at this time. I am saying this in regard to the Monkeypox disease that has now come upon Guyana. As was the levity of the populace when the COVID-19 struck, so may be the case with the Monkeypox, I fear.
Many in Guyana are taking a laid-back attitude. They even posit that Monkeypox is unlikely to cause a pandemic on the scale of COVID-19. However, we need to exercise medical sense, as the Monkeypox virus is still a force to be reckoned with, even though it is far more forgiving than that of the COVID-19, is less transmissible, and can be readily subdued by existing vaccines.
I see that Guyana is ready, as it is clear that planning has been ongoing. The news has it that “Monkeypox vaccines (are) due by September month end.” The Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, explained that “…the vaccines that protect against Monkeypox are in limited quantity globally. However, through an agreement with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Guyana should receive some of these vaccines by the end of September.”
As I said, Guyana must not take any chance whatsoever. The mere fact that Government is putting in extra work to inoculate the vulnerable and infected people is enough reason for citizens to be cautious and cooperative.
Let us bear in mind, as the Minister pointed out, that indeed “There are very few medications that are currently available to treat the virus… (and currently) the United States is working on three different antiretrovirals that are in limited supply, and they are being used under emergency-use authorisation.”
However, what is good to note is that patients with Monkeypox are being treated based on their symptoms; that is, “The treatment for these persons when they get infected would be symptomatic; therefore, if they have fever, we’ll treat fever; if they have an enlarged lymph node, we’ll treat that,” the Minister detailed, and in all likelihood, patients’ recovery after treatment is realised within 14-21 days.
I posit here again the need to take all precautions, as, “Basically, monkeypox is transmitted from animals to humans. So, if there is an infected animal and a person comes in contact with them, it can get infected. So, that’s the first form of transmission.” “Simple…stay put in your corner if and when infected.”
I admonish all to be alert, as Monkeypox can become a national scourge that our healthcare providers and public health systems can very well be challenged with. So, with an aggressive, well-coordinated public-health campaign, we can be on top of the situation. As we learned from COVID-19, access to testing can mean the difference between a growing outbreak and a disease that can be promptly diagnosed, treated, and contained through isolation and contact tracing.
Stigma may also discourage people from coming forward. “Please be honest and compliant!”
Yours truly,H Singh