In an effort to eliminate Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that cause the spread of dengue, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, through the National Health Fund (NHF), will be spending $130 million on activities geared towards clearing breeding sites.
This announcement was made by the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, at his Quarterly Press Briefing, on Tuesday (August 27), at the Ministry in New Kingston.
He said for this initiative, the Ministry will be collaborating with the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the Parish Councils, through the Local Government Ministry.
“We have agreed and we’ll be mobilising $130 million to these agencies for critical support in the field,” Dr. Tufton said.
“In the case of Parish Councils, they have Councillors, they have an organisational structure at the local level and, of course, the NSWMA is critical, because of the impact of solid waste as breeding sites for mosquitoes,” he added.
Dr. Tufton reiterated the previous initiatives which the Ministry of Health and Wellness implemented in its fight against the spread of the dengue virus.
“The Ministry has embarked on a number of initiatives to date. In fact, since the start of this year, when we declared an outbreak, we have had a sustained programme to create the awareness and to respond to the challenges that this health threat poses,” he said.
He noted that 1,000 temporary vector aides have been deployed to visit homes, especially those in high-risk communities, where they have been distributing material, inspecting water storage facilities and treating them.
Additionally, Minister Tufton said there are approximately 200 permanent staff members who provide appropriate supervision and support.
“The country is in a high state of alertness around the potential health challenges [regarding] the dengue fever and the Aedes aegypti mosquito and its breeding in communities across the country,” Dr. Tufton said.
“Jamaica is not alone in that regard. In fact, Latin America and the Caribbean region are experiencing a dengue outbreak. The Pan American Health Organization has reported that in the last seven months, some two million cases of dengue have been reported in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean,” he added.
Dr. Tufton said the recent drought condition has contributed to the cases of dengue that have been presented.
“The reality is in drought conditions where you have limited access to piped water, storage of water becomes a big issue, and if the water is not stored properly… then you create almost perfect conditions for the breeding of mosquitoes, and so, there is a relationship between the drought, call it climate change if you will, and the outbreak,” he said.
He said approximately 5,200 cases classified as suspected, presumed or confirmed were made regarding dengue; 1,000 with dates of onset in 2018 and just over 4,000 with dates of onset in 2019, to date.
Of the 38 suspected and confirmed dengue-related deaths, 17 persons died in 2018 and 21 died in 2019.