The Ministry of Health needs to tell the public the whole truth about chikungunya rather than appear to be withholding truths. If the fear is fed by presumptions that calling a spade a spade will fuel mass panic, then how about failing to declare the disease an epidemic in a timely manner? Any lessons learnt in employing the hush–hush modus operandi several months ago?
The tidal wave of chikungunya hitting the island continues to sweep man, woman and child off to their sick bed, overcome by the terrible symptoms of this new and suspiciously viewed mosquito carrying scourge. And if this was not bad enough, lo and behold the nation is being warned to brace for more of the ongoing onslaught of chikungunya.
So far it is unclear just how many deaths have been associated with the illness. In late August the Puerto Rican Health Department announced an investigation to determine whether two deaths there were linked to chikungunya.The epidemiologist was quick to point out that having the illness at the time of death does not necessarily mean it is the cause of death. Neighboring Martinique has made forthright disclosures related to the ravages of chikungunya on its population.
Talking about death may seem morbid but hardly so for persons who are worried about chikungunya compounding their pre-existing health conditions, including the prevalent arthritis, diabetes, lupus, sickle cell and a range of other problems. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable, yet the impact of chikungunya on the young and old remains fuzzy. Relapses of the viral symptoms are said to be occurring. Why is that? There are mounting questions. Openness and transparency ought to be demonstrated on the issue. Up until now health authorities are making it appear that they are either very cagey on talking or are observing no-go zones where the nation’s health and wellness is concerned.