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Youth: Use social media to reach us - CARPHA puts region on high alert for possibility of another dengue outbreak

Published:Thursday | January 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
An Aedes aegypti mosquito, the principal vector of dengue fever.

Almost half of the nation's youth captured in a recent U-Report survey don't know the symptoms of dengue fever, with 39 per cent of the respondents saying that social media is the best way to reach them with information about the illness.

The result of the social messaging poll, which was posted on January 11, which captured the response of 702 youths between the ages of 13 and 29, has been described as worrying by U-Report parent organisation United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

For that reason, UNICEF has sought to solicit the views of the millennials as it relates to what more can be done by the Ministry of Health in the fight against dengue.

One suggestion put forward by a U-reporter based in St Catherine is that the ministry become more active on social media, which would disseminate information to youngsters much quicker and more effectively, in addition to executing school tours.

Another recommendation is for increased vector control participant numbers under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment programme.

One Portland-based U-reporter suggested that the ministry spearhead a mosquito-prevention challenge loaded with prizes.

Over in the western parish of St James, a U-reporter is suggesting that the Government conduct research and identify areas prone to outbreak then classify those areas in a system.

"This system will determine the level of threat each area poses, and based on such, help to decide what course of action to take," said the 18-year-old male.

A 27-year-old member of the disabled community used the platform to call for information to be accessible in multiple formats so as to not exclude persons living with disabilities.




The suggestions come against the backdrop of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) warning that another regional outbreak of dengue fever is a possibility in the near future.

CARPHA noted that the last major regional outbreak of dengue occurred in 2009, and since then, the region has experienced two large outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases - Chikungunya in 2014 and Zika in 2016 - which are unlikely to reoccur soon.

"We all need to clean up our surroundings. The two most important things to manage mosquito populations in our Caribbean countries are to manage water-storage drums and tanks and properly dispose of used vehicle tyres to prevent mosquitos breeding," said Dr C. James Hospedales, executive director of CARPHA.