St James winning dengue fight, say health officials
MONTEGO BAY, St James – Health officials in St James say the parish is winning the fight against dengue. However, they continue to implement measures needed to keep the mosquito-borne disease at bay.
“The indices is coming from 19 to five. The average should be four and we are at five, so we are near, it’s coming down,” parish manager for the health department, Lennox Wallace told the Jamaica Observer.
He credits the fall in the indices to a raft of initiatives implemented, such as the addition of about 105 temporary task workers to their staff of 35. With the added manpower they were able to cover a lot more ground.
“We are doing fogging in the morning and in the evenings. So we go out at 4:00 am and do the communities and during the day we do the source reductions and we fog again during the evenings,” Wallace said.
He said residents have provided positive feedback.
“The complaints have now become commendations,” the health official said proudly.
He added that the focus has been on communities with high instances of mosquito-breeding sites and there has been a “great, great improvement”.
Wallace was, however, quick to point out that despite the gains made the St James Health Department is still being vigilant in its fight against dengue.
“The rain is still falling so we have to be out there, seven days per week and we provide what we need to for the staff,” he said.
He is urging residents to play their part.
“We are asking them to keep their garbage in their houses even if the [National] Solid Waste [Management Authority] doesn’t come to pick it up on time. Bore holes in the tins, look at flowers that will hold water,” Wallace said, repeating an often delivered message.
“We are just asking them to help us to rid their own premises of the mosquito-breeding sites and we will do the rest,” he added.
According to chief public health Inspector for the parish, Sherika Lewis there will be another big push in communities with high rates of mosquito infestation come next month.
“We will be doing more daytime search and destroy [as well as] source reduction during the day time. These areas include Somerton, Norwood and Spot Valley,” she stated.
She revealed that, in St James, one death is currently being investigated to determine if dengue was the cause.
In late September, the health and wellness ministry declared that there was an outbreak of dengue in Jamaica. Up to November 6, the ministry’s National Surveillance Unit had recorded 870 cases nationally. These were among the 3,147 suspected, presumed, and confirmed cases. At the time, there were two confirmed dengue-related deaths in the country
During a November 9 media briefing, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton said the outbreak is expected to run its course until the end of 2023 into the new year.