Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Jamaican Government to ramp up vector-control efforts

Published:Friday | September 9, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Dr Christopher Tufton

Government is looking to ramp up its mosquito-control programme as it intensifies efforts to beat back the health threats from the Zika virus, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton on Wednesday disclosed that he has held preliminary talks with the Atomic Energy Agency unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, with a view to collaborating in areas of "appropriate research and control methods, using technology to eliminate the great risk that the Aedes aegypti mosquito poses to the nation".

Tufton, addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street, Kingston, offices, said the enormity of the threat to global health and economy posed by this particular

mosquito strain, which also transmits chikungunya, dengue, and yellow fever, requires concerted action.

"It is not just an issue that should be confronted by Jamaica. I think it should be a regional effort, which is why CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) is important and the regional heads of government are important, and indeed global, because as you can see, it is affecting the entire world," he lamented.




Data from the health ministry showed that up to September 2, some 35 pregnant women were confirmed to have contracted the virus, with 501 suspected cases.

Kingston, St Andrew, and St Catherine had the greatest number (cumulative) of reported cases.

Meanwhile, medical entomologist Sherine Huntley-Jones describes as comprehensive the wide-ranging scope of activities addressed by the vector control unit in the ministry. This includes research, monitoring, and auditing of the vector.

"What we need is the support to make it what it ought to be, to be able to respond the way that we ought to," she said.

The health minister noted that with prevention being the first-line defence, buy-in from every member of the society is critical to the overall success of containing the disease.

"Which is why we spend so much on public education [because] personal responsibility is critical, changing behaviour, and of course, thirdly, the curative side of things - through the hospitals, the public health system."