Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Mosquito control programme strengthened

Published:Thursday | January 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton (right) views mosquito larvae under a microscope during a tour of the Mosquito Control and Research Unit (MCRU) Insectary at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus, which was officially opened on Tuesday. Others (from left) are: Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Jamaica, Eric Khant; Chief Medical Officer in the Health Ministry, Dr Winston De La Haye; UWI Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Mona campus Principal, Professor Archibald McDonald; and MCRU Head, Dr Marcia Mundle.

The country's vector management programme has been strengthened with the opening of the Mosquito Control and Research Unit (MCRU) Insectary at the University of West Indies (UWI) Mona campus in St. Andrew. A joint initiative of the Ministry of Health and UWI through support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the facility will provide for entomological study ad research aimed at controlling mosquito-borne diseases such as chikungunya, Zika, dengue fever and malaria.

It will serve as Jamaica's national mosquito control and research laboratory, complementing the insectary at the National Public Health Laboratory on Slipe Pen Road in Kingston.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Tuesday, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the establishment of the MCRU insectary "demonstrates another significant step to help advance and sustain Jamaica's commitment to mosquito control."

It is equipped with new microscopes, supplies and equipment to advance scientific and operational research.


Appreciative of partnership


Dr. Tufton said the Government of Jamaica is appreciative of the partnership with the USAID, which has facilitated ongoing support to reduce mosquito breeding and vector-borne diseases.

UWI Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Mona campus Principal, Professor McDonald, said the institution is "extremely pleased" to partner with the ministry on the initiative and also hailed the support from USAID.

He said the institution envisions the full integration of the MCRU into the research and teaching endeavours of the Mona campus.

"It will certainly add to our efforts to modernise all of our facilities, as we continue to serve our stakeholders in Jamaica and across the Caribbean," he noted.

Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy in Jamaica, Eric Khant, said advancing public health was among the priorities of the US' engagement with the Caribbean.

He contended that infectious diseases like Zika "know no borders (so) we must work together to protect our citizens."

Khant noted that the insectaries' combined resources will provide the Ministry and UWI with "adequate space to complete the necessary surveillance and research activities to elevate mosquito control efforts in Jamaica."