Fri | Apr 19, 2019

St James needs more vector-control workers, says health inspector

Published:Saturday | April 13, 2019 | 12:23 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James, says that the St James Health Department needs more vector-control workers to help in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation (StJMC) on Thursday, Wallace said that the health department’s vector control unit has only 11 permanent workers.

“We currently have a cadre of just 11 persons that are employed to the vector-control department. To maintain the gains that we’ve made over the time up to March 22, we’d need to employ more persons. But alas, we do not have the funds to do so!” Wallace told the meeting.

“I’ve been in this business for 27 years, and we had the Zika virus, chikungunya, and now dengue, and we had the same amount of persons put in these programmes. We saw success in all three programmes, but it goes without saying that the current number of staff needs to be increased to cover the area more effectively and disrupt the cycle of mosquitoes,” Wallace added.

Wallace noted that earlier this year, the health department got more funding to hire additional personnel for vector-control work.

“As far as the dengue programme in the parish is concerned, we received $28 million to mobilise persons, and we employed 60 additional persons to cover St James. The programme ended on March 22, and the parish was successful in reducing infestation levels,” said Wallace.

“We’re not in a comfort zone, however, because we’re not out of that area as far as dengue is concerned. When we have an increase in the number of human capital that we employ, it is easier to cover the parish in a quicker and much more effective way.”

In January, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton announced that 50 additional permanent workers would be employed to bolster the St James Health Department’s vector-control unit.

Last year, St James recorded 20 notifications of dengue fever out of 800 reported cases islandwide; however, no dengue-related deaths were reported in the parish.