This comes against the outbreak of the Chikungunya virus (Chik V) last year, as well as the threat of the Zika virus (Zik V). Both diseases are transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said that while Government must lead in the preparation and prevention drive, “the fact is that the citizenry also have a critical role to play in terms of (protecting your own health)”.
The Minister, who was speaking at a Town Hall meeting held at Mandela Park in Half -Way-Tree, St. Andrew yesterday (August 19), said persons need to understand that it is their own actions that can protect them.
Citing a study done in the aftermath of the Chik V outbreak, which showed that 50 percent of those surveyed felt the disease had nothing to do with mosquitoes, Dr. Ferguson said that this notion must be dispelled.
Dr. Ferguson advised persons to inform themselves about these vector borne diseases, so that they can better protect themselves. He said they must be proactive and clean up their surroundings.
He reminded that the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is domesticated, which means that it breeds, lives and thrives among people, so it is mostly found in homes, place of work, worship, and schools.
Dr. Ferguson said that the Ministry has been undertaking several initiatives towards reducing the mosquito population. Recently a mesh covering for 45-55 gallon drums were distributed to parish councils.
“About 4-5 weeks ago we invited the mayors in for a briefing session as we introduced a drum cover, which is a mesh, so that they can help to get the use of the covering into communities. The covers prevent the mosquito from entering the water being stored in the drums and therefore significantly reduce the possibility of the breeding of mosquitoes,” the Minister said.
Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor Dr. Angela Brown-Burke, also stressed the importance of persons taking care of their own environment.
“Absolutely no Government will have enough money to deal with cleaning all drains, bushing areas around homes and cleaning up in front of our yards unless there is some change in behaviour among individuals,” she said.
She noted that every year, the KSAC undertakes a disaster mitigation programme where $70 – $80 million is provided to various divisions for bushing and cleaning of drains and gullies. She is therefore imploring citizens to desist from disposing their garbage in these areas.
The meeting was the first in a series of collaborative consultations to be hosted by the South East Regional Health Authority in partnership with the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC).
It is part of an ongoing public education thrust by both agencies in continuing to spread awareness and discuss methods of prevention of vector-borne diseases.
Public health officials also discussed water storage and how to treat water during the drought, minimum health standards for vendors as well as steps to obtain food handlers permits.
Persons also got the opportunity to get clarification on matters surrounding the Zika virus and other public health issues.
Other meetings are being planned for St. Catherine and St. Thomas.
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