Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says public education is critical in getting community members to act in eradicating mosquito breeding sites.
“We have to educate and inform every single Jamaican as to what the potential risk or potential threat is as it relates to the mosquito… . The first line of defence is really about education and us taking personal responsibility,” he said.
Dr. Tufton was addressing a group of volunteers at the Kitson Town Baptist Church on April 1, shortly before they went into the West Central St. Catherine community to distribute brochures and other pieces of literature on the dangers, risks and prevention activities associated with the mosquito.
The volunteers were from the Ministry, Jamaica Red Cross (JRC), and the National Youth Service (NYS).
“You are the agents of change in the mindset of the people… . Talk to the people that you come into contact with and try to educate and inform them, and try to make them more responsible and aware about the threat that the mosquito represents,” he told them.
The education campaign is part of the Health Ministry’s Operation Mosquito Search and Destroy initiative, which encourages residents to eliminate breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquito in and around their homes.
The activity is being undertaken ahead of the start of the rainy season in June. Common breeding sites for mosquitoes are drums, plant pots and vases and old tyres that collect and store water.
The Aedes aegypti, which is identifiable by the white markings on its legs, is responsible for transmitting diseases such as the Zika virus.
Data show that St. Catherine is known as one of seven parishes that are high-risk for the Zika virus.
Dr. Tufton informed that 8,000 Jamaicans have been suspected or confirmed by lab tests to have Zika or certain symptoms of the virus.
President of the JRC, Dr. Dennis Edwards, said his agency is pleased to collaborate with the Health Ministry to help in preventing mosquito-borne illnesses.
Recently, the Health Ministry partnered with the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) to establish a Mosquito Control and Research Unit.
The unit will be responsible for coordinating best practices in integrated vector management and research into mosquito control and eradication.
Article by: Chad Bryan
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm