State hands on deck in St James dengue fight
MONTEGO BAY, St James — A multi-agency partnership has been established in this western parish to monitor the dengue fever outbreak within the area.
The partnership will see representatives of St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC), Western Parks and Markets (WPM), the regional arm of National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), and St James Public Health Services working to rid the parish of mosquito breeding sites and bulky waste.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease. The Aedes agypti mosquito, which transmits the disease, is endemic to Jamaica. The removal of bulky waste and other matters will play a role in decreasing the number of mosquito breeding sites.
The Bogue Hill community was one of the first communities targeted in the parish, and newly minted regional operations manager at WPM Edward Muir told the Jamaica Observer that while they have identified significant waste to be removed, the residents have been doing their part in managing their garbage.
“I must say that I am pleased with what I am seeing in Bogue Hill today; Bogue Hill is easily a model community. Coming to Bogue Hill, we were of the view that we would need no less than 20 trips to remove the waste, but we are seeing where residents are properly containerising their garbage…and they have put the white waste on the sides of the road so it is much easier for us and the crew to come through the community and [collect them],” Muir said.
He added, “This is a model community, and we are encouraging residents to follow and play their part so that we can ensure that we do our best in a timely manner.”
A significant number of old, derelict vehicles were also identified in the community, and the Sunday Observer understands that they will be removed in the coming week. Dwight Crawford, councillor for the Spring Garden Division where Bogue Hill is located, shared gratitude on behalf of the residents for the removal of the derelict vehicles.
“The cars that are in the area were put here by members of the community but, unfortunately, they can’t remove them so the National Solid Waste is here to assist the residents. These cars will be gone and this community will be safe and as clean as it possibly can be,” said Crawford.
For his part, parish manager for St James Public Health Services Lennox Wallace shared that the municipal corporation has assisted the health department in the fight against dengue. Just last week SJMC donated five fogging machines to the health team.
“I reached out to the St James Municipal Corporation and I got immediate assistance. We got $1.5 million to assist in the purchasing of equipment to rid the areas of Montego Bay from breeding sites and to kill the adult mosquitoes. I am very happy that the agencies are here today, not just the Ministry of Health, because we cannot do it alone,” Wallace said during Saturday’s operation.
The parish manager told the Sunday Observer that Bogue Hill will also be fogged by the health team, and a town hall meeting is being organised. This, he said, will play a role in educating the residents on ways in which they can protect themselves and keep their environment free of mosquito breeding sites.
At the same time, deputy mayor of Montego Bay Richard Vernon urged residents to play an active role in the country’s fight against the deadly disease.
“The partnership is also with the citizens, and I must commend the members of [this] community who have taken the time out to package their garbage so that the [National] Solid Waste Management Authority can pick it up in a central location,” Vernon said.
“We need more of this from our citizens — not just with the management of waste but also to reduce the population of mosquitoes that are associated with dengue. You have a responsibility as well,” the deputy mayor charged.
Melvin Ottey, chairman of Bogue Hill Community Development Committee (CDC), told the Sunday Observer that residents have developed a working strategy for ridding their community of garbage.
“Because the community is situated along a train line there is not adequate space for a garbage truck to pass through, so those who cannot carry out their garbage on a Wednesday use a makeshift cart and pay that operator money to transport it to the community square. About two members of the community also do recycling. It was a difficult task in the initial stages but we have seen how much cleaner the community is,” Ottey said.
As of Friday, September 23, the country had recorded 565 suspected, presumed, and confirmed cases of dengue, the ministry said. Of that number, 78 cases had been confirmed, with the majority of the cases in Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine and St Thomas, according to the release. One death had been reported.
There has been no confirmed case of dengue in St James.