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Letter of the Day: Don't let chik-V fiasco haunt ZIKV emergence

Published:Friday | May 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

With the public being made aware of the potential threat of the zika virus, or ZIKV, I want to use this opportunity to urge the Ministry of Health to be truthful, realistic and proactive in its actions. It simply cannot repeat the same terrible mistakes that precipitated the rapid and destructive spread of the chikungunya (chik-V) virus last year.

In St Thomas, ground zero for chik-V, it left several, young and old, dead, with many more to this day affected by lingering joint pain and or other medical conditions. It also had a negative impact on St Thomas' already struggling economy, affecting productivity in the commercial and agricultural sectors.

All this despite repeated warnings about the then-developing outbreak and, incidentally, a May 2012 subregional chik-V PAHO/CDC-funded chikungunya-preparedness workshop held at The Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston. That workshop was attended by health representatives from 22 countries, including those from Jamaica's Ministry of Health.

The ministry clearly dropped the ball,

forcing Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to take charge.

It is critical this time around that the health ministry be honest and put more emphasis in actions over words, especially given the fact that the ministry's much-touted vector-control measures were in many cases non-existent last year during the chik-V outbreak. Frankly, too much of the ministry's attention is taken up with issuing daily press releases about grand speeches and many times embellished announcements.

Many of us are keen on working with

government ministries, parish councils and the relevant state agencies, in coordination with churches, schools and community groups, in pushing a programme aimed at reducing the number of artificial water-filled container habitats that support breeding of the mosquitoes; implementing an intense programme of fogging throughout the constituency; and intensifying a public-education drive to encourage the use of repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens and nets to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

DELANO SEIVERIGHT

JLP Caretaker

St Thomas Eastern