Thu | Nov 15, 2018


Published:Saturday | October 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Pay attention to threats


I am not one for writing letters to the media or to politicians. However, I feel compelled to write as I struggle to recover from chikungunya.

In July, the BBC reported an increase in the number of chikungunya cases in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Health authorities in Cuba also reported confirmed cases of chik-V in that island. PAHO further added that there were 4,600 confirmed cases in the region.

In light of the outbreak, fumigation efforts were increased to reduce the number of mosquitoes and to minimise transmission of the virus. Despite this knowledge, Fenton Ferguson and the Ministry of Health were slow to implement measures to reduce the onset and the effects of what is now an epidemic in our island. Why did he wait until numerous Jamaicans were suffering before starting much-needed clean-up campaigns?

The prime minister and our newly appointed police commissioner saw it fit to take part in clean-up activities after the chik-V outbreak. Too late! By then, numerous Jamaicans were ill and productivity at our workplaces on the decline because of sick days taken by employees.

While I do not believe that the Government is responsible for all the needs of its citizens, having communities not strewn with garbage and mosquito-breeding sites are basic requirements. I am disappointed that we have not been provided with that.

Space does not permit me to express further disappointment at not being able to source Panadol in my time of need, as some pharmacies were out of stock because of increased demand. Did we not anticipate the need and, therefore, ensure adequate supply?

I do not wish ill for the health minister, but maybe if he had in fact experienced the severe joint pains and the inability to get out of bed, the chik-V epidemic would have been handled differently. Maybe if he had experienced the headaches, unsightly rashes, shooting pains, and the unbearable itching, better efforts would have been made to carry out fumigation efforts throughout the island. Maybe.

Going forward, I anticipate that other possible calamities, should they reach our shores, will be handled differently. I trust that when next I pen a letter, it will be congratulatory rather than one of lamentation. Until then, dear minister, ‘a bag of young people will (continue) to move ole’.