NAJ satisfied with health ministry's dengue fight, Opposition throws in support
Nurses Association of Jamaica President Dawn-Marie Richards

ROSE HALL, St James — The newly installed president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) Dawn-Marie Richards said the association is satisfied with the measures being implemented by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to address the ongoing dengue virus outbreak.

Local health authorities are or will be undertaking fogging, searching, identifying and destroying mosquito-breeding sites and undertaking public education among other things.

"Yes, I am. Those are the measures that we usually implement. Using technology, you know, we improve on what we implement but basically, the management is the same," stated Richards.

Richards was fielding questions from journalists following the association's 54th Island Conference on Saturday. This was held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James.

Dr Morais Guy (Photo: Donald Delahaye)

Richards, who is a senior public health nurse attached to the St Mary Health Department within the North East Regional Health Authority, was selected on Friday and installed as the 36th president of the 78-year-old organisation on Saturday night. She takes over from Patsy Edwards Henry.

While the country was on a dengue watch for more than a week, the ministry officially declared an outbreak on Saturday.

Richards argued that dengue is endemic to Jamaica and an outbreak can be expected at least every four years.

"So, we have put systems in place — the wheels have been in motion to manage dengue as is necessary," stated the president.

"We have been able to manage dengue over the years. So, we just implore persons to do what they have to do as we do what we have to do," added Richards.

Richards said the association has not had any expressions of concern at this time from her membership but will be on the lookout for any.

However, she said there were safety concerns for all.

"There are concerns that persons maintain their safety. The safety of our nurses is paramount, the safety of our facility is also paramount and we know that the Ministry of Health, at this time, is addressing those concerns," stated Richards.

In a press release on Sunday, the Opposition spokesperson on health, Dr Morais Guy called on citizens to pay close attention to the messages, bulletins and updates from the Ministry of Health, its departments and agencies.

Besides, Dr Guy appealed to citizens to immediately begin cleaning and clearing their yards and communities of debris, in particular, old cans and tyres which collect water and become a prime breeding area for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the carrier of the dengue fever virus.

Symptoms associated with the virus include sudden fever, headache, pain behind the eye, nausea, vomiting, body aches and a rash.

The country last experienced a dengue outbreak in 2019.

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

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