Cold hard facts of the dengue fight


Cold hard facts of the dengue fight

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

There has been a lot of prattle, particularly from politicos, about the Health Ministry's response to the dengue fever outbreak.

Easily the most disingenuous of the arguments being put forward is that the ministry has not been sensitising the country about the dengue crisis. That, of course, works in situations in which memories are short and increased numbers of people are suffering from the effects of the disease.

The truth, though, is that from as far back as 2017 the health authorities have been painstakingly telling the country about the danger posed to the population by the Aedes aegypti mosquito — the pesky insect responsible for the spread of the virus.

In addition, the ministry has been engaged in a consistent mosquito-eradication campaign and has been appealing to Jamaicans to rid their surroundings of mosquito-breeding sites.

In May 2017, for instance, after heavy rains, this newspaper reported that the ministry mobilised its entire Environmental Health Services to increase vector control activities, with special attention given to Clarendon, St Thomas, and St Catherine, which were the three parishes hardest hit.

Among the enhanced vector control activities were increased fogging in all parishes; increased larvicidal work; extended hours of work by vector control staff; investigation and response to complaints; health promotion; procurement of additional reserve chemical stocks; and assessment of transportation and deployment, based on need.

Since then, the Health Ministry has been going non-stop with its vector control activities, and just last month Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton told the nation that the Cabinet had approved a $1-billion expenditure over the next three months to enhance the country's dengue intervention efforts.

That, he said, included the establishment of a National Dengue Coordination Committee as the health authorities seek to include a multi-sectoral/agency response.

He also reminded us that over the course of this year the Administration had increased temporary vector control workers to 1,000; provided $60 million for solid waste removal; expanded the fogging programme in high-risk communities; allocated approximately $320 million to municipal corporations and Members of Parliament for vector control in communities; rolled out a public education campaign in all forms of media; increased clinic hours in some health centres from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm; provided free treatment for children under 12 years at University Hospital of the West Indies; and activated emergency operation centres at the ministry and in all parishes.

That list of activities is by no means exhaustive and, we hold, represents a significant and responsible response to the dengue outbreak which the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has warned is a “complex situation” in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The cold, hard fact that the critics of the health authorities need to accept is that dengue, and all other mosquito-borne diseases, are domestic and community sanitation problems.

If Jamaicans continue to keep their environment nasty and refuse to eliminate mosquito-breeding sites the efforts of the health authorities will have very little effect. Preventing the spread of diseases like dengue requires action by every single Jamaican.

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




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:

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

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

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon