Short-staffed St Mary Health Department struggling
STEPHENS... the St MaryHealth Department is almostout of resource to deal withthe issues of Aedes aegyptisurveillance and control(Photo: Horace Mills)

Chief public health inspector for St Mary, Rupert Stephens, has appealed for councillors in this parish to help him lobby for the re-engagement of 60 temporary workers to assist in tackling the parish's mosquito problem.

According to Stephens, additional resources would also be required for the St Mary Health Department to address a concern raised about rodents in the Annotto Bay area of the parish.

Stephens highlighted the struggle for resources during a meeting of the St Mary Municipal Corporation last Thursday.

“I just want to take the opportunity to once again appeal to our [North East] Regional Health Authority, and to ask the municipality for whatever support we can get in lobbying for the engagement of temporary vector control workers. The indices would have reflected an increase [in the mosquito population] over the period, as also we notice increased rainfall which is unusual at the start of the year. This translates into increased mosquito breeding and we are out of resource – almost out of resource to deal with the issues of Aedes aegypti surveillance and control,” said Stephens.

He argued that the five permanent workers at the St Mary Health Department are not enough to get the job done.

Stephens told the corporation that additional staff is also needed as the Ministry of Health and Wellness recently launched an initiative – rapid assessment – in regard to vector control.

“This will mean that we will have to go across all the communities across our parish to once again assess, so that we can give a true picture of the burden of Aedes aegypti breeding and proliferation. And in order to do this, we are definitely going to need some extra resources.

“If we could re-engage those 60 temporary workers, that would suit us well. That is something we are asking for – for the councillors and political stakeholders to help us to lobby to get the workers re-engaged,” declared Stephens.

While the chief public health inspector was calling for additional resources to fight mosquitoes, councillor for the Annotto Bay Division Hugh Bryan raised concern about a challenge being experienced with rodents in and around Annotto Bay.

In response, Stephens stated that, while his department can readily provide technical assistance regarding eradication of the rodents, it does not have the necessary funds to purchase required items such as rat baits.

“Once we are assisted with the resources, we would be willing to coordinate a rodent control programme in the township of Annotto Bay or any other township or any other locality in this parish. But we don't have the resources in terms of, for example, purchasing the baits,” said Stephens.

“We have the technical resources to assist the process – which is very, very important. Once we get some support from any agency, including the St Mary Municipal Corporation, we would be willing to pull our team together and provide the technical and supporting part of the programme.”

Stephens noted that the shortage of funds only affects external initiatives–not the department's rodent control programmes at medical facilities throughout the parish.

“We do have our internal rodent control programme within the health department where we look at the facilities – the health centres and hospitals – those are closely monitored. That is to the extent that the health department is able now to actually conduct its own rodent control programme. Anything outside of those facilities we would be willing to provide [only] the technical support and guidance,” said Stephens.

HORACE MILLS Observer writer

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