16th February 2016
Medical Officer within the Ministry of Health Oreta Zachariah cautioned that MRSA within the prison acts as a wakeup call for official that something immediately needs to be done to address the overcrowding situation at Her Majesty’s Prison.
During an emergency meeting held by the Attorney General on Tuesday which brought together Permanent Secretary of Public Safety Sharon Peters, Prison Superintendent Albert Wade, Commissioner of Police Wendell Robinson, Chief of Defense Staff Col. Sir Trevor Thomas, Chief Medical Officer Rhonda Sealy Thomas, and Labour Commissioner Eltonia Rojas along with other Ministry Officials, the Medical Officer detailed that MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is not new to Antigua and Barbuda as it has been seen from time to time.
However she stated that infection control measures are very important, when dealing with MRSA. She says it is not a supper bug, but a virus that can be treated, and it’s a fact that at any point individuals can have the virus living on their skins and do not even know, but once their immune system is not strong it will affect them.
She says this MRSA diagnosis of one patient stems from prisoners continuously being housed in certain conditions at 1735.
Minister of National Security the Hon. Steadroy Cutie Benjamin highlighted the seriousness of the situation and his concern that something must be done now in order to bring control to the current situation at the prison as he is shocked and disappointed that the situation was allowed to deteriorate to this point.
Currently Short term plans are being explored to ensure that the virus can be decolonized within the country’s lone correctional facility.
It was also advised by the Medical Officer that additional nurses be placed at the facility with immediate effect and prisoners be thinned out to further eliminate close contact as currently there are 144 persons on remand at Her Majesty’s Prison.
Minister Benjamin says any alternative measures that can be used will be looked at as a matter of urgency and the Police, Defense Force, Prison Officers and Health officials will work together in devising a strategy.
He further mentioned that the early removal of prisoners through the extramural sentencing Act and the Convicts License Act will also act as a measure to further ease the overcrowding situation at the prison as this coming March approximately 70 inmates will be released.
A follow up strategic planning meeting with be held.
For Further Information Contact: Laurisa Francis Communications Officer Ministry of Legal Affairs Tel: (268) 464-5348