Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 28th 2015 Contents ANNA-LISA PAUL and BOBIE-LEE DIXON
People afflicted with syphilis seeking
treatment at any government health facility
have been turned back and must wait for
treatment since there is a shortage of peni-
cillin and the chemical agent used to test
This situation has developed because the
supplier of both the chemical to test for the
disease and of penicillin, the first-line treat-
ment for it, ceased importation of the drugs
late last year.
Senior officials at the Ministry of Health
yesterday confirmed the shortage, noting
that it was brought to their attention last
November. However, one official said special
permission was given to an alternative sup-
plier in mid-January to locate both the agent
and medication. The official claimed this
had been done and both commodities were
expected to begin arriving in T&T "very
Officials at the Queen s Park Counselling
Centre and Clinic (QPCC) yesterday com-
plained about the unavailability of the chem-
ical and medicine, especially since they were
currently experiencing an increase in the
number of people seeking treatment fol-
lowing the carnival festivities.
QPCC officials, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said they were responsible for
testing thousands of blood samples taken
from people across the country, including
those seeking government employment, for
whom a medical is mandatory.
The officials noted that the first-line
treatment option was penicillin, adding that
the second treatment drug doxycycline was
"not as effective and was not recommended
for use by pregnant women."
The QPCC also provides testing and treat-
ment for other STDs, including gonorrhea,
chlamydia, herpes and genital warts.
Alarmed by the shortage of the chemical
and medicine to test for and treat syphilis,
respectively, QPCC nursing staff agreed that
the highly contagious disease was particularly
harmful to unborn babies whose mothers
had been diagnosed with it. They said if
left untreated, syphilis could cause babies
to be born with congenital heart defects
Officers estimated that approximately 50
people visited the clinic daily seeking treat-
ment for numerous STDs, as well as
Claiming that this was "very disturbing
as the children are the future of this country,"
the medical officers said they were pained
to witness what was happening daily.
Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic
that fights bacteria in the body.
It is used to treat many different bacterial
infections such as acne, urinary tract infec-
tions, intestinal infections, eye infections,
gonorrhea, chlamydia and periodontitis
Contacted yesterday, Health Minister Fuad
Khan confirmed the shortage but said doxy-
cycline could be used in the interim.
He said penicillin V was not as accessible
as it used to be because not many countries
still used the brand. He said as a result of
this, it was no longer lucrative for distributors
With this knowledge, Khan said, the Gov-
ernment had been looking for manufacturers
to supply the drugs.
"C-40, which is the importing and dis-
tributors arm of the NIPDEC pharmaceu-
tical system, will be importing the pen V.
Government has identified some supplies
and we will be importing via C-40," he said.
Asked how soon the country could expect
supplies, Khan could not give a timeline,
but said supplies were expected to arrive
soon. He added that Pen V was not the only
medication available to treat syphilis.
Regarding the syphilis testing kit, he
assured the public that a new supply had
been signed off on by the Chief Medical
Officer and would also be in the country
shortly. He urged citizens not to panic, reit-
erating there were other drugs that could
be used in the meantime.
"So there is no need for concern or for
anyone to panic. The ministry is aware and
is putting things in place to deal with the
Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Saturday, February 28, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Two more Congress of the People (COP) mem-
bers yesterday resigned from the coalition partner,
as the fallout in the wake of the resignation of
former chair Nicole Dyer-Griffith over the United
National Congress treatment of the party con-
Walking out of COP s Flagship House just after
3.30 pm yesterday, founding member Joe Pires,
businessman Conrad Aleong and Richard Granger,
who had resigned earlier in the week, left the COP
"In its current state the COP has no future, it
has made itself irrelevant. The leadership is weak,"
Aleong and the others said.
Aleong said with the "spate" of recent resigna-
tions, the COP was no longer the political party to
which he wanted to belong.
"We have had meetings with Mr (Prakash)
Ramadhar going back two, three years, telling him
to leave and work our way back. It is just wrong,"
The three said they made several attempts to
discuss their languishing loyalty to the party with
Ramadhar, but nothing was ever done.
Aleong also signalled his disapproval of the path
the party had taken, saying it had veered off the
tracks laid by founder Winston Dookeran.
He said he was part of the undecided group of
voters who did not vote along tribal lines but looked
to ensure they put country first.
"COP looked like the right vehicle with Mr Dook-
eran; it had the right leadership," he said.
"I have never been political before, I joined and
thought I d help out. But along the way, very early
after the PP got into power, the COP leadership
lost its way and disappointed the majority of the
people that sought change.
"The people who expected the COP to keep the
UNC honest were very disappointed."
Aleong said he was not a part of any tribe and
would not be voting along those lines.
"We need to get a movement of people who really
care for this country, so therefore I cannot stay
there," he said.
Pires, chairman of the Diego Martin northeast
constituency, said the constituency seat was "handed
over to the UNC (United National Congress)" years
ago. He said he and that whole constituency had
been "wary" of the COP being subsumed under
the UNC since then.
"My leader has listened, but I am very concerned
about the future of the Diego Martin northeast
constituency," Pires said.
Granger said the COP had become a UNC b-
team, which was not what he initially signed up
for when he joined the party.
"They boxed the COP in from very early in the
game and from then on, it was just a downhill
slide," Granger said, adding the COP was treated
badly by the UNC Government.
He described the coalition situation as akin to
battered wife syndrome.
"You getting licks everyday and being told that
you wrong, but you know that you are right," he
wait for relief
COP rocked by 2
STD drug shortage as supplier stops imports
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan takes a call
while leaving the chamber at yesterday's
sitting of the House of Representatives at
Tower D International Waterfront, Port-
of-Spain. PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
Customs and Excise agents
yesterday intercepted a con-
tainer loaded with 232 kilo-
grammes of high grade mari-
juana en route to Suriname at
the Port of Port-of-Spain.
Senior customs officials esti-
mated the drugs at $3.2 million.
The 40-foot container orig-
inated in China and passed
through Jamaica before coming
to T&T en route to its final des-
The container was offloaded
at the port yesterday and was
supposed to have been loaded
onto another ship to be taken
But Customs officers, acting
on information received, seized
the container soon after it was
Customs officials said they
are of who the consignee is. (AP)
Customs seize 232 kilos of marijuana
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