Christopher Tufton | A proactive approach to fighting ZIKV - Part 2
Below is the conclusion of Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton's statement to Parliament on the Zika virus situation in Jamaica
Participation of Parliament
I have already written to my colleague Members of Parliament to request their participation in the Zika response programme. In this regard, the Ministry of Health through the National Health Fund will be providing one million dollars to each MP to support Zika activities at the constituency level. The funding will be channelled through the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and will be available as at July 1, 2016. The money is to support interventions through to the end of August 2016 and activities are to focus on high risk areas. Mr. Speaker a breakdown of how the funds will be used is as follows:
- Training of one thousand (1000) community workers through the HEART Trust/NTA under the guidance of the local Medical Officer of Health. This training will utilise some modules from the existing Community Health Aides Manual. We expect that this formal training will allow us to have a core group of persons that we can call upon for similar activities in future. These workers will be employed for six weeks beginning July 1, 2016.
- Facilitate community and town hall meetings working through agencies such as the Social Development Commission, neighbourhood watch and other community-based organisations. This will begin in two weeks. We will be partnering with the private sector on this initiative.
- Undertake vector control activities at the community level with the aim of reducing mosquito breeding sites.
- Disseminate education material.
I have asked each Parliamentarian to equally match our support by allocating one million dollars from their CDF to ensure a more robust and intense intervention to control this outbreak.
Public Education & Health Promotion Activities
The unborn child is at risk of developing microcephaly once the woman has been infected with Zika virus while pregnant. As part of the second phase of our public education activities we will be placing more emphasis on pregnant women, their partners and those who develop severe disease such as GBS while we continue to engage the population and stress the importance of taking personal responsibility. In this regard will:
- Host island-wide education sessions.
- Disseminate prevention messages from our Zika ambassadors.
- Use the winners of our Zika jingle competition to spread the message to school children and communities.
- Continue working with Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) teachers to institutionalise environmental health practices through the schools' curriculum.
- As part of our focus on schools we will also be launching another competition to encourage primary age students to observe proper environmental health practices through the development of a poster and a journal that records their efforts at reducing mosquito breeding around their homes. We expect that this will be done as a summer project.
- Enhance Risk Communication/Public Education through various media and fora including town hall meetings in high risk and other communities. *
- We have already started another phase of our mass media campaign.
- Develop and print additional information, communication and education material.
- Continue our online interventions through social media and our website.
Given the fact that 4-5 to 55-gallon drums used to store water for domestic use are among the main breeding sites, we will be focusing on how persons can deal with these containers. With the assistance of Food for the Poor, we will provide 50,000 drum covers which will be distributed to high-risk communities. We will also have dialogue with the private sector to see how we can have these drum covers manufactured and made available through hardware stores.
We seek to promote the following behaviours and will target householders in particular:
a. Ensure that drums used for storing water are tightly covered with plastic or mesh.
b. Ensure that your open drums that are used to collect water are treated once per week with three drops of cooking oil to form a film over the water to kill mosquito larvae.
c. Look around your home, school, workplaces, church once per week for at least ten minutes at a time for any container that can hold water and dispose of it, punch holes in it or keep it dry.
Everyone must understand that we are all at risk of Zika infection. The aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the virus lives here with us. This means that we all have to take action not only to reduce breeding but also to protect ourselves from mosquito bites.