Ag. Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health and Social Development
Telephone: 468-3701 ext. 852 7742
Officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Development are cautioning residents concerning atmospheric conditions as a result of the volcano eruption on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Chief of Drugs and Pharmaceutical Services, Mrs. Gracia Wheatley-Smith stated that the probability of the ash heavily impacting the Virgin Islands maybe minimal, but that is possible with the change in wind direction.
Mrs. Wheatley-Smith said, “Residents, particularly asthmatics and those with respiratory conditions should secure inhalers and use them to prevent or to treat any signs of an attack the air irritants may cause.”
Mrs. Wheatley-Smith stated that the preventer inhaler usually ‘beclomethasone’ (Becotide®) is used to reduce the inflammation and mucus production in the lungs and the reliever inhaler usually ‘salbutamol’ (Ventolin®) is used to stop the hyperactivity reaction of the lungs to an irritant such as pet dander, perfume and in the case of the volcano, it will be the ash.
“Persons who have been diagnosed with asthma or other respiratory conditions already have hypersensitive lungs and are to ensure that they have these types of inhalers readily available for immediate treatment to prevent a visit to the emergency room,” Mrs. Wheatley-Smith explained.
Persons are encouraged to consult their physicians for their prescribed inhalers or medication and visit any local pharmacy to get the prescription filled as soon as possible should atmospheric conditions deteriorate in the coming days.
Parents of children with asthma should also observe the advice and secure inhalers for their children and consider purchasing a spacer that will ease the administration of the inhaler in young children.
Mrs. Wheatley-Smith said a peak flow meter, which gives information on a person’s lung function should also be considered for purchase as they are easy to use and are affordable.
The Chief also advised that the peak flow meter is good to have on hand as it can indicate good lung function which results in easy breathing or can signal a decrease in lung function which can indicate the probability of an asthma attack happening in the near future.
BVI residents are reminded to be safe, be wise, be prepared and remember medicines help but only when used wisely.
Residents can telephone 1(284) 468-9850 for more information.