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Jamaica Can Assist Region In Developing Mosquito Control Programmes

Jamaica Can Assist Region In Developing Mosquito Control Programmes
Health Minister, Dr the Hon. Christopher Tufton (left), converses with Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus in St. Andrew, Professor Archibald McDonald, following last Friday’s (March 31) launch of the Mosquito Control and Research Unit, which is based at the tertiary institution
(Media Credit: Donald Delahaye)

KINGSTON (JIS) -- Health Minister, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton, says Jamaica has the capacity to assist other Caribbean countries in developing effective mosquito control programmes. He noted that the country has the benefit of the intellectual resources of the Ministry and other stakeholders, such as the University of the West Indies (UWI), Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and Jamaica Red Cross, among others. “I think that as one of the larger Caribbean territories with (this) benefit… we have an obligation to help our brothers and sisters in the region. So, whatever we do here, we should take the view that we are willing to transfer some of that knowledge and information and coordinate and collaborate within the Caribbean,” Dr. Tufton said. He noted that the UWI, as a regional institution, is ideally suited to assist in this regard. “We really ought to, not just out of (a sense of) duty, but out of our own self-interest, because of the nature of how viruses and diseases are spread,” he noted.

The Minister was speaking at Friday’s (March 31) launch of the Mosquito Control and Research Unit at the UWI’s Mona Campus in St. Andrew.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton continues to emphasise the importance of a coordinated and holistic stakeholder approach to arrest the transmission of vector-borne diseases under the national mosquito control campaign.

“That approach involves a number of stakeholders, starting with our citizens and the implementation of a public education programme, and the need for us to take personal responsibility… within our personal space, the home environment and the collective community.

“(This by) looking at how and what we can do to contribute to controlling breeding sites and dealing with the potential threat that an increased (mosquito) population could lead to, as manifested in the chikungunya outbreak,” the Minister underscored.

He cited the findings of a survey conducted by the Ministry’s Vector Control Unit, which showed that approximately 70 per cent of mosquito breeding sites identified were located in and around homes.

“We cannot fight this risk if we don’t involve every single Jamaican; and every Jamaican will not feel a part of this fight if they are not informed (about the) risks and their roles and responsibilities. So it’s not just about a few of us or a few agencies… it’s about every single Jamaican… . That has to be part of the strategy, going forward,” Dr. Tufton said.

As such, he noted that part of the Mosquito Control and Research Unit’s remit will entail coordinating and assisting in the public education thrust.

The unit, which is a collaborative undertaking between the Ministry and UWI, will be based at the tertiary institution’s Mona Campus in St. Andrew.

It will be responsible for coordinating best practices in integrated vector management and research into mosquito control and eradication. It will be headed by an entomologist.

Other stakeholders include the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS), Jamaica Red Cross, Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and National Youth Service (NYS).