She said that the decision was taken by the Ministry, following a recommendation from a committee of experts from across the island who are responsible for reviewing the technical material that is available on various treatments that are being tried internationally.
“We also utilise the guidance documents that are provided by the WHO (World Health Organization) who themselves have established expert panels to review the material that is available. As a result of our review, we have made a decision and this is a decision that is supported by the WHO that we will not include hydroxychloroquine in our treatment protocols,” she said.
The CMO was responding to a question during a virtual press conference from Jamaica House on Wednesday (April 8) as to Jamaica’s position on the use of the drug.
In recent weeks, there have been raging debates globally about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating patients with COVID-19, after it was touted as a weapon in the fight against the pandemic. This after US president Donald Trump presented the drug as a "game-changer" even though his health advisers have voiced uncertainty about its efficacy against novel coronavirus.Trump, nevertheless, has been advocating the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating Covid-19 patients.
During a White House press conference on Monday, Trump spoke about hydroxychloroquine and apparently threatened "retaliation" if India did not clear exports of the drug to the US.
Trump said that he sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the sale of Hydroxychloroquine tablets ordered by the US to treat the growing number of coronavirus patients in his country, hours after India banned the export of the anti-malarial drug.
"So, I would be surprised if that were his decision. He'd have to tell me that. I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said we'd appreciate your allowing our supply to come out. If he doesn't allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn't there be?" Trump said.
Hydroxychloroquine tablet is used to prevent and treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, among other ailments.
Dr. Bisasor McKenzie said that Jamaica is aware that ongoing studies are being done to look at the use of the drug in treating a certain set of patients.
The CMO said “Jamaica has applied to be a part of the solidarity study, which is being coordinated from the WHO, and in that study, we may have persons who fit definite criteria, who would be recruited to have that treatment”.
She noted that there are specific treatment and monitoring guidelines that would have to be strictly observed in using the drug.
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