Each MP to Get $1 Million to Fight Zika

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health, through the National Health Fund, will be providing $1 million to each Member of Parliament to support Zika activities at the constituency level.
  • “The money is to support interventions through to the end of August 2016, and activities are to focus on high-risk areas,” Dr. Tufton said.
  • “I have asked each Parliamentarian to equally match our support by allocating $1 million from their Constituency Development Fund to ensure a more robust and intense intervention to control this outbreak,” Dr. Tufton said.

The Ministry of Health, through the National Health Fund, will be providing $1 million to each Member of Parliament to support Zika activities at the constituency level.

The funding will be channelled through the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, and will be available as of July 1.

This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, in a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 7.

“The money is to support interventions through to the end of August 2016, and activities are to focus on high-risk areas,” Dr. Tufton said.

Some 1,000 community workers are to be trained through the HEART Trust/NTA under the guidance of the local medical officer of health. This training will utilise some modules from the existing Community Health Aides Manual.

“We expect that this formal training will allow us to have a core group of persons that we can call upon for similar activities in the future. These workers will be employed for six weeks beginning July 1, 2016,” the Minister said.

Funding is also to be used to facilitate community and town hall meetings, working through agencies such as the Social Development Commission, Neighbourhood Watch and other community-based organisations. This will begin in two weeks.

The Ministry will also undertake vector control activities at the community level with the aim of reducing mosquito breeding sites, while also disseminating education material.

“I have asked each Parliamentarian to equally match our support by allocating $1 million from their Constituency Development Fund to ensure a more robust and intense intervention to control this outbreak,” Dr. Tufton said.

Meanwhile, as at May 29, the Ministry of Health received reports of 2,166 notifications for the Zika virus (ZikV).  Some 1,519 of these fit the case definition for Zika and were classified as “suspected Zika fever.”

The Ministry received the highest number of notifications from Kingston and St. Andrew (653), followed by St. Catherine (620).

Of the 787 which were tested, 408 results have been received, of which 21 were positive for the Zika virus. Two of the 21 confirmed are pregnant women who will be continuously monitored.

“As we have been pointing out, we estimate that the number of confirmed cases is just a small portion of what is actually the reality in terms of the persons who could possibly be infected,” Dr. Tufton said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that as much as 70 per cent of the population of a country may be infected over time.

However, only one out of four of the infected persons will have symptoms and up to 50 per cent of symptomatic persons may be sick enough requiring a visit to the doctor.

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