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Open letter to Health Minister Nickolas Steele

Health Minister Nickolas Steele – a lot is on his shoulders

Hon. Nickolas Steele
Minister of Health and Social Security
Ministry of Health and Social Security
Ministerial Complex, Tanteen
St. George’s

September 19th, 2021

Dear Minister Steele,

Re: Protocols for Treatment of Persons Testing Positive for COVID-19

Permit me to clarify that I write in my individual and personal capacity on a matter of grave concern – the protocol for the treatment of persons who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Yesterday, someone reported to me that she had gone to get tested at one of the community field stations set up for testing and vaccination over the lock-down weekend. Though she had tested negative last weekend, she had not been feeling well over the week. Therefore she had gone for another test this weekend.

Among symptoms were high fever and loss of taste. She tested positive and was told to go home and quarantine/isolate herself. She was not given ANY instructions/advice about how to deal with her symptoms. She was not referred to any other health professional or given any prescription for any type of medication.

An important detail to note is that this individual is FULLY VACCINATED, having been among the early wave to get vaccinated. It is also interesting to note that her adult daughters, also vaccinated, tested positive as well but were not exhibiting any symptoms.

Clearly Hon. Minister, this individual is not one of those “hard-headed “or “stupid unvaccinated” Grenadians that so many persons, in places of authority and influence, have been lamenting about and blaming for the current explosion of COVID-19 in Grenada. She did her part based on the instructions of the health authorities.

Now, how is the Ministry of Health, under your authority, organised to deal with and respond to persons who are identified as being COVID-19 positive?

Fortunately, this individual is very conscious of health and aware of the local herbs and traditional remedies used by our foreparents and promoted by local and regional herbalists as part of the measures for strengthening the body’s defense mechanisms to prevent/fight infection. She has also heeded the messages about boosting the immune system. She is therefore valiantly battling it out on her own.

It is NOT rocket science, Hon. Minister that if people are simply told to go home and quarantine/isolate without any other instructions/prescriptions for alleviating their symptoms, then there will be escalation and need to go into hospital – something to be avoided at all costs. Therefore, what are the instructions and protocols that those doing the testing must follow when a person tests positive.

It is rational to assume that, given the significant challenge of vaccine hesitancy, the Ministry of Health MUST also be prepared to treat COVID-19 cases. COVID-19 does not start as an emergency, but if there is not early intervention and symptoms are not treated, then the situation will escalate to emergency.

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It is my understanding that from the onset of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Grenada, patients were successfully treated with the EARLY administration of hydroxycholoroquine (HCQ) among other measures. HCQ was also administered to patients at home, “preventing hospitalisation, adverse complications and deaths”.

It is also my understanding that there are also other low costs measures effective as prophylaxis and early intervention. I would therefore like to know whether or not Grenada is continuing with this treatment that proved efficacious last year or is merely focused on the vaccination numbers?

Secondly, does the Ministry of Health have in place a protocol for persons who have taken the vaccine and may have serious adverse reactions? How will they receive timely support BEFORE they succumb to permanent damage or death?

Hon. Minister, growing up, my mother always warned me to “mind yuh mouth” because if some unfortunate happening/incident came to pass that could seemingly be linked with my unwise/unwitting threat/promise/prophesy, “water won’t wash” that I was not associated with the plot.

Similarly, Hon. Minister, given the dire predictions of yourself and the Prime Minister at the July 7th sitting of the House of Representatives about people that will die and the creation of conditions at the General Hospital where the situation could reach one of having to decide who lives and who dies ( and the establishment of an Ethics Committee to guide decision-making), FAILURE of the Ministry of Health to prioritise the early implementation of measures which have been proven to prevent hospitalisation, adverse complications and deaths, may result in the realisation of your respective “prophecies”. Would yourself and the Prime Minister wish your statements of July 7th to be your administration’s legacy statements in respect of COVID-19?

Thank you, Hon, Minister, for the opportunity to share these concerns. I also take this opportunity, through you, Hon. Minister, to thank the overworked and underpaid staff of Grenada’s health care system for their valiant efforts to take care of the nation’s citizens. I offer my appreciation and best wishes to other responders and frontline workers including members of the Royal Grenada Police Force.

I extend my best wishes to you and your team and for the safety and security of all.

Kind regards!

Sandra C.A. Ferguson
c.c. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Security
Ag. Chief Medical Officer