The World Health Organization donated 400 sets of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Ministry of Health, on Monday 30th October 2017, to reinforce preparedness against potential disease outbreaks.

The donation comes as the Ministry of Health refines emergency practices against the plague, following the outbreak in Madagascar.

In a ceremony held at the Sheikh Kalifah Diagnostic Centre, the Minister for Health, Mr Jean Paul Adam received the PPE from the WHO Liaison Officer, Dr Teniin Garakuh. In attendance were several high officials within the Ministry of Health, Representatives from WHO and those from other departments who are contributing to the preparedness against plague.

“Measures set up to prevent introduction of the plague in Seychelles have been reinforced and the Ministry of Health remains vigilant,” Minister Adam said during the ceremony. “The additional equipment given by WHO gives us the support needed if we have another suspected case and all the other measures that go with it.”

Personal Protective Equipment are essential to minimise exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. The donated equipment include protective gear for health workers, surgical masks and gowns, face masks, examination gloves, protective goggles, boots, safety boxes and sprayers.

These will boost current infection prevention and control measures in place to protect the safety of healthcare workers.

“Experience has shown that there is an urgent need to improve surveillance and precaution.” Dr Garukuh said, also addressing those present. “Especially the use of PPE amongst front line staff.”

In addition to this donation, efforts are also underway to ensure plans and protocols are in place to respond to any suspected plague cases. A team of WHO officers have been assisting with all necessary technical support.

Other activities are being organised within the Ministry in collaboration with external partners, to support preparedness against plague in Seychelles. These include trainings in surveillance; ensuring health workers are informed about correct clinical case definitions and treatment protocols for the disease; effective screening at airports and seaports; public awareness activities, as well as the development of plague-specific contingency plans and protocols.

Seychelles has not had any confirmed plague cases, but the country’s relative proximity to Madagascar increases risks of the spread of the disease. The current outbreak is of particular public health concern because it is occurring in non-endemic areas, and because both pneumonic and bubonic types are being reported. Health workers will be trained in the correct use of the gear within the coming days.