Gov’t intensifies efforts to make schools dengue-free
Medical Entomologist and National Programme Manager, Vector Control, in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Sherine Huntley-Jones. (JIS Photo)

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Government has intensified efforts to make schools safe from dengue fever by supplying institutions with drum covers in addition to carrying out fogging on weekends and assisting with the removal of bulky waste.

Medical Entomologist and National Programme Manager, Vector Control, in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Sherine Huntley Jones, said the age group five to 14 is mostly affected by the dengue outbreak, and along with the Ministry of Education and Youth, the health ministry is working to prevent infection in the school environment.

In a release on Tuesday, Huntley Jones, who was speaking in a recent interview, said that a team from the health ministry met with the Permanent Secretary in the education ministry and their senior staff, and a strategy has been adopted where they have been asked to “do search and destroy activities in and around the schools”.

“We have asked them to have zero Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding in and around the school environment, starting with our weekly search and destruction of breeding sites in the communities,” Huntley-Jones said.

She noted that in addition to the general mitigation work, the local public health inspectors are working closely with the principals of schools to apply treatments at compounds, and “all schools will be placed on a fogging schedule, to ensure that we are keeping that Aedes aegypti mosquito to zero.”

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that is usually a mild illness in which a person may get a fever, headache, joint and muscle pain. Rest and adequate hydration are usually enough to see one through the period of illness. The recommended treatment for the fever is acetaminophen/paracetamol.

The ministry, through resources from the National Health Fund, will expand the community strategies through the engagement of all stakeholders at the community level. This engagement will involve the provision of resources to undertake dengue mitigation strategies. These activities will include support for the removal of bulky waste and drain-cleaning exercises across the island.

Since July 2023, the parish health departments have been engaged in enhanced fogging and treatment of breeding sites. This has resulted in a seven-day extended work week for fogging and other mosquito eradication activities by the team.

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