Sun | May 26, 2019

MOH cracks whip against mosquito delinquents

Published:Saturday | February 9, 2019 | 1:07 AM

The Public Health Department is preparing to serve 53 notices on owners/occupiers of premises in Kingston and St Andrew as it cracks the whip against householders who fail to comply with instructions to reduce mosquito-breeding sites amid a dengue epidemic in Jamaica.

While the health ministry has long used moral suasion as its first option, the ongoing delinquency of some residents has pushed the Kingston and St Andrew Health Department to go harder now by serving notices as a first step, which could eventually lead to prosecution, according to Director of Environmental Health Everton Baker.

“When you fail to satisfy the notice, then we come and say, ’What happen?’ and if you don’t move to remedy the situation, then we warn you for prosecution. Sometimes they fix the problem, but some people still not doing it.

“Some people, it’s like they just don’t care,” Baker told The Gleaner yesterday. “You treat this week and go back two weeks later, and it’s the same drum breeding mosquitoes. A vast majority of people comply, but it’s like 25 per cent of people across the country don’t care here nor there.”

Residents have been urged to overturn or punch holes in receptacles where water can settle, ideal habitats for the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits the dengue virus. The female Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has a lifespan of four weeks and can lay up to 300 eggs every seven days, is domesticated, thriving in vases, tyres, cans, and other such discarded items outside homes, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton shared during Thursday night’s Portmore, St Catherine, leg of the Taking Responsibility Road Tour at the HEART College of Construction Services.

FAILURE TO COMPLY

While many people have complied with the ministry’s directive, the delinquency of others has prompted the Government to invoke the Public Health (Nuisance) Regulation of 1995.

Failure to adequately respond to the citation will be followed by court action and hefty fines.

“A person who fails to comply with a notice under regulation 4(1) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction in a Resident Magistrate’s Court, (a) in the case of a first conviction, to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months,” the law reads.

In addition, any expenses incurred by the local board may be recovered from the owner of the premises in the Parish Court as a civil debt due to the Crown.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com