Editorial

Citizens must help to stop the spread of deadly dengue

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!


We really can't fault the approach our health authorities have taken over the past few years in Jamaica's efforts to combat mosquito-borne diseases, particularly dengue fever.

Certainly, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the regional health authorities, and professionals in the sector have been circulating advice and updates on dengue through various media.

In fact, the scale of the public education campaign has, we believe, given the vast majority of Jamaicans — certainly those who read or listen to public service broadcasts — vital information about the disease, including what we all need to do to protect ourselves.

Despite all that, unfortunately, last month we had reason to comment in this space on what appears to be a widespread indifference to appeals from the authorities to rid homes and the wider environs of mosquito-breeding sites. People continue to carelessly dispose of refuse of every description — much of which provide ideal opportunities for mosquito breeding.

Dr Christopher Tufton, the health and wellness minister, has suggested that inadequate resources for the fight is not the biggest hurdle for the current anti-mosquito campaign. We share his view. The biggest problem, we reiterate, is the attitude of our people.

Our fear is that the individuals who continue to have this cavalier attitude to public health are placing us all in danger, especially given that global health authorities have told us that about 40 per cent of humanity is at risk of contracting dengue fever.

The World Health Organization has reported that the incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years. Prior to 1970, only nine countries had seen severe dengue epidemics. Now, we are told, as many as 50 million to 100 million infections are estimated to occur annually in more than 100 endemic countries; putting almost half of the world's population at risk.

Last month, Dr Tufton told Parliament that for the period January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019 there were 135 suspected and confirmed dengue-related deaths in Jamaica. These included 47 cases in 2018 and 88 in 2019. He also reported that there were 10 suspected deaths in September.

The Pan American Health Organization has reported 2,563 698 suspected and confirmed dengue cases, including 1,082 deaths, in the Americas as at October 14 this year. And, while the highest incidence rates are reported by Nicaragua, Belize, Brazil, and Honduras, we here in Jamaica cannot rest comfortably, especially as we acknowledge scientists' prediction that the disease could affect two billion people worldwide by 2080.

Prevention and treatment, therefore, are vital to our survival. As such we encourage all Jamaicans to heed the advice of our health authorities.

At the same time, we are encouraged by research being done by The World Mosquito Project to eliminate dengue. Hopefully, their plan to inject the Aedes aegypti mosquito with a bacteria called Wolbachia which, we are told, blocks transmission of the disease to humans, will prove successful.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT