Bermuda’s Measles Outbreak Tabletop Exercise: Enhancing Preparedness and Resilience

The Ministry of Health recently organized Bermuda’s Measles Outbreak Tabletop Exercise. This significant event gathered stakeholders from various sectors to comprehensively assess the Bermuda Public Health Emergency and the Measles Outbreak Preparedness and Response Plans. Their collective expertise and insights will be instrumental in reviewing and updating the existing preparedness and response plans. By actively participating and engaging in this exercise, Bermuda is demonstrating its commitment to safeguarding the health and well-being of its citizens.

“The primary objective of the recently conducted Measles Outbreak Tabletop Exercise was to conduct a thorough and critical review of the existing plans,” said Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Shaun Ramroop. “Our approach with this exercise was one of learning and improvement, viewing the identification of challenges or potential weaknesses in the plan as an opportunity to enhance our preparedness and resilience. This exercise is vital in bolstering our ability to respond to measles and any potential public health emergencies.”

The day-long tabletop exercise was essential to ensure that key stakeholders involved in the Bermuda Measles Outbreak Preparedness and Response Plan were aware of their responsibilities. The exercise also tested the operational realities of executing the plan and ensuring that Bermuda has capabilities for all hazards, health emergencies and disaster risk management, including the core capacities needed to fulfil our responsibilities under the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005. The goal is to ensure that Bermuda builds its own standing capacity to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from humanitarian emergencies and large outbreaks.

Minister of Health Kim Wilson said, “I am grateful to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer for organizing this tabletop exercise, and I want to thank everyone who participated. Our stakeholder cooperation is crucial for a successful and efficient response to any public health emergency. I would especially like to thank our planning team, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for their support and guidance in planning and implementing the exercise.

“A lot of work went into this exercise, and all participants had to prepare for it beforehand by reading a huge volume of written materials. The exercise identified lessons beyond the specifics of measles and will be vital in improving our preparedness for any public health emergency.”

The Evaluation Team, which includes technical officers from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and other independent public health specialists, is preparing a post-exercise report with recommendations to the Office of the Chief Medical Officer based on the lessons learnt from the exercise. These recommendations will enable necessary updates to the Bermuda Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, the Measles Outbreak Response Plan and technical documents. 

About Measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications and even death.Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes, followed by a rash.  The measles virus is spread through sneezing, coughing and close contact and can live in a room for up to 2 hours after a person with measles is present. Although Bermuda has not reported any confirmed cases of measles since 1990, we are not immune to the threat of a measles outbreak. The recent resurgence of measles in many parts of the world, including the Americas and Europe, has increased the risk of measles importation and transmission on our island.

The Ministry of Health encourages parents to vaccinate their children against MMR and all vaccines in the Bermuda Immunization Childhood Schedule and on time. The MMR vaccine prevents measles and is safe and effective. Children should receive the 1st shot at 15 months of age and again at 4 – 6 years of age. Contact your physician or Hamilton Health Centre on 278-6460 for more information.

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