Zika registration mandatory in Caribbean Netherlands

Formal registration of the Zika virus will become mandatory for Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba and the Netherlands as of September 1, but not for all Zika patients.

Dutch Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Edith Schippers stated this in a letter that she sent to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on May 3. In this letter she updated the Parliament about a number of current issues regarding health care, including the Zika virus.

The Minister explained that the Netherlands Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM had advised her on March 11, to introduce a mandatory registration for the Zika virus in both the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) and the continental Netherlands.

“As a result, I have earmarked the Zika virus as a mandatory registration infectious disease in Group C under the Public Health Law. The mandatory registration will be limited to the Zika virus in pregnancy, new-borns with inborn illnesses, and in cases of hospitalisation and/or death,” stated Schippers.

According to the Minister, the involved authorities are currently being consulted about the intention to introduce a mandatory registration for some Zika cases per September 1. RIVM’s website states that so far only one official Zika patient has been registered in Bonaire. In French St. Martin there have been 61 confi rmed cases and eight in Dutch St. Maarten.

In May 2015, the first patients with Zika were diagnosed in Brazil. This outbreak has spread across various countries in South and Central America. In November 2015, doctors saw the fi rst indications that an infection with the Zika virus during pregnancy could possibly harm the unborn child.

The Zika virus in relation to the Caribbean Netherlands was discussed during a debate of the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports with Minister Schippers some two weeks ago, on April 21.

Responding to questions by Member of Parliament (MP) Hanke Bruins Slot of the Christian Democratic Party CDA regarding the Zika virus and the cooperation with RIVM, the Minister stated she had made the suggestion for the islands to discuss the possibilities of assistance with RIVM, also because of the institute’s immense know-how on the combating of mosquitoes.

Schippers explained that the GGD Public Health Departments in St. Eustatius and Saba, in cooperation with the local family doctors and RIVM, had set up a proper surveillance and solid policy to restrict the outbreaks of diseases on the two islands. She did note that the cooperation in St. Eustatius could be better. As a result, the preventive measures cannot be made optimal use of, she added.

According to the Minister, the mosquito control and communication with the population have been going well on the islands. Based on the assistance requests of the islands, the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports VWS together with RIVM, have drafted a plan of approach to arrive at a “structural combat” of mosquitoes in a “responsible manner.” The Minister spoke of a good cooperation.

The Daily Herald.

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