Health ministry steps up fight against dengue

Health ministry steps up fight against dengue

Minister appeals to Jamaicans to help destroy mosquito-breeding sites

Monday, December 09, 2019

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MINISTER of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says the ministry has increased its vector control programme in order to combat the dengue fever outbreak, which has become a major public health problem.

“As we approach the end of the year, the health sector faces its busiest time with an increase in vector-borne disease, gastroenteritis, influenza and influenza-like illnesses as well as trauma. As a result, there is an increase in waiting times as most public health facilities have been seeing increased numbers of patients,” Tufton said in a national radio broadcast yesterday.

“Dengue [transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes] is the fastest spreading mosquito-borne viral disease in the world. In the last 50 years, incidences have increased 30 times, being estimated at 390 million cases per year, with 96 million cases manifesting symptoms. This viral infection is endemic in over 100 countries, including Jamaica, with frequent outbreaks,” he said.

However, the minister believes there can be a decrease in dengue cases.

“Prevention begins with stopping the mosquitoes from breeding. In this regard, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has stepped up its enhanced vector control programme to include 1,000 temporary vector control workers employed to do public education and “search and destroy” activities in communities to eliminate breeding sites. [The ministry has also] expanded its fogging programme to kill the adult mosquitoes in high-risk communities, and we have rolled out a public education campaign, in all forms of media, to educate and inform all members of the public on how to decrease their risk and treat the illness if they should become infected,” said Dr Tufton.

The health and wellness minister also said the ministry has partnered with the National Solid Waste Management Authority for solid waste removal; and municipal corporations and members of parliament (MPs) for vector control activities in communities.

Tufton said, too, that the ministry has increased opening hours in some health centres up to 8:00 pm and on Saturdays in some clinics, providing free treatment for children under 12 years old at The University Hospital of the West Indies, and has activated emergency operation centres at the ministry and in all parishes.

Also, he stated that supplementary vehicles and fogging machines have been purchased and more resources have been allocated to MPs, various ministries, and state entities.

“In addition to fogging done by the ministry, we are asking that householders be more proactive in dealing with the mosquitoes that cause dengue. We have utilised, in the past, a protocol whereby householders spray the inside of their homes with a domestic insecticide, such as Baygon and Pyrex. This exercise targets mosquitoes in areas of the home that are not usually reached by fogging such as in the closets and under the bed,” he said, adding that people who have a respiratory illness or who are at risk for respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, should not participate in that exercise.

The minister also appealed to all Jamaicans to partner with the Government by taking action, including searching their surroundings at home, workplace, school and communities for mosquito-breeding sites.

He also asked citizens to support the routine vector control activities by allowing the workers to safely carry out their duties.

“Jamaicans, prevention is better than cure, so let us destroy those mosquito breeding sites. In the event that you display symptoms, including fever, headache, vomiting or rash, please visit your doctor or health centre to get treatment. At the same time, please exercise patience and cooperate with our health care workers. Together, we can work to end this outbreak and to ensure that everyone, especially persons at high risk, including our children and the elderly are safe and in good health,” Tufton said.

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