Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, points out mosquito larvae and demonstrates water treatment to resident, Rhona Nelson, during a public education campaign walk-through in Hague, Trelawny last Friday. Sashane Shakes photo

Sashane Shakes

The Trelawny Health Department has moved to ramp up its vector control and prevention programme to stave off the dreaded Dengue Fever, which has so far claimed the life of one man in that parish. The Ministry of Health has since been keenly monitoring the issue of Dengue Fever outbreak prevention in the parish and in a display of active community involvement, Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, last Friday, visited Hague to get a first-hand look at the progress of the Enhanced Vector Control Programme (EVCP) in Falmouth.

Whilst participating in the walk-through as part of carrying out a public education campaign, the Minister oversaw inclusively the treatment of water sources – whether deliberate sources or sources that are not planned, inspecting to determine the population of aedes aegypti, treatment, brochure distribution, talking to residents, home inspections, fogging and other activities.

“Our position in the ministry is that this is in fact the most effective way to deal with the threat of vector-borne diseases and in this case, the aedes aegypti population and all the ails that come from it,” affirmed Dr. Tufton.

The work has been effective so far as health personnel have been performing daily tasks of informing community members of mosquito-related illnesses, causes and prevention. Information distributed on a daily basis include: cover all drums, barrels, tanks, buckets and other containers used to store water; cover trash containers to keep out water; get rid of all old tyres, tins, bottles, plastic containers and anything in which rain water can settle.

In addressing the importance of the input of the citizens, Chief Public Health Officer for Trelawny, DelroyMowatt, added that, “Part of it is not just our effort but the households have their part to play also. They would have been educated and should see to the maintenance (of their surroundings) and execute the preventative measures.”

A two-phase initiative, the Enhanced Vector Control Programme, is a vector eradication programme and education implementation in which over 1000 persons will be employed on a phased basis across the island. With the first phase to conclude at the end of September, phase two of the programme commences in October and will last through to December. The programme was strategically implemented to deal with the seasonal increase in mosquito-borne diseases which peak in the summer months.

Strategizing a combative approach, according to the Minister, Trelawny has 10 full-time employees in the vector control unit alone under the community health aid programme which has been deployed in the last few years. Of the 400 employees deployed across the island for phase one of the EVCP, 46 were employed in Trelawny for the temporary period of 3 months. This, Dr. Tufton says, creates “effectively a much bigger team”.

On the ministry’s behalf, Dr. Tufton thanked his team for assiduously ensuring that the people of Trelawny remain updated on this serious health matter. “It’s not an easy job. You have to confront locked gates, bad dogs, unwelcoming citizens, the elements – the sun, the rain – and you still put up with all of that and carry out your jobs and we really appreciate that.”

The Enhanced Vector Control Programme was launched island-wide in July under the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the HOPE programme through the Office of the Prime Minister.