Thu | Apr 27, 2017

ZikV rate of infection on the decline - De La Haye

Published:Thursday | April 20, 2017 | 4:00 AMPaul Clarke
De La Haye.

Chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Winston De La Haye has hit back at the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) for suggesting that a fresh outbreak of the vector-borne Zika virus is likely, with data showing the rate of infection on the decline.

De La Haye said that a gradual decrease has been seen since January 2016 but urged the redoubling of efforts to keep the mosquito-borne disease in check.

"Not to say we must not pay attention anymore. On the contrary, we must redouble our efforts to step up our vector-control activities," he noted.

On Tuesday, a statement from the PNP questioned the Government's commitment on the issue and accused health minister Dr Christopher Tufton of not being aggressive enough in pursuing the community eradication programme in the fight against vector-borne diseases, indicating that an outbreak was possible.

"While the Government spent $800 million on a highly partisan bushing programme, much of which was paid prior to the local government elections in November 2016, there is no focus on cleaning gullies to rid the island of mosquito breeding sites," the release stated.

"There have been complaints of delays in garbage collection in many communities across the island. Furthermore, the community mosquito eradication programme has not been aggressively pursued as promised by the health minister."

Continuing, it said: "Everybody is now exposed to a possible new outbreak of the Zika virus due to the poor choices by the Government. These poor choices include the ill-conceived $1.5 million false promise, which has negatively impacted the 2017-2018 budget, causing cuts in critical sectors such as health."

 

NOT ALL THE FACTS

 

Saying that the Opposition was misinformed, De La Haye said that they might not have had all the facts.

"First of all, we are not seeing, based on data we have gathered, any sign that a fresh outbreak of Zika is imminent. What must be told is that there really is a decrease in reported ZIKV cases, and that was what we anticipated," he said, adding that it was unfortunate that the Parliamentary Opposition would seek to spook the nation into believing that the health ministry did not have the situation under control.

He said that the public should not fear another outbreak, at least for another five years, as the disease was cyclical in nature.

"All the models we have seen show not only a decline, but also that the likelihood of another outbreak like the one we had last year is almost nil," De La Haye stressed.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com