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JIS News

The Environmental Health Unit of the Ministry of Health will begin the first round of baiting activities, under its rodent control project, in some 25 select communities and public health buildings islandwide, beginning in the first week of April.
Medical Entomologist, Sherine Huntley, told JIS News that communities were selected based on where there were high levels of rodent infestation and cases of leptospirosis.
She informed that while the activities would extend to select communities islandwide, much effort would be concentrated in Clarendon and St. Mary in particular, as they were two of the parishes that recorded an increase in leptospirosis cases, following the heavy rains caused by Hurricane Wilma late last year.
“For Clarendon, we are focusing our efforts on the town of May Pen, Spaldings and Chapelton, and for St. Mary we are looking at the town of Port Maria and the town of Islington,” Miss Huntley said.
She pointed out that baiting was not the sole component, noting that programme activities began in February with training for staff members, educating community members, consulting with stakeholders, including the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and alerting members of the commercial sector.
“We have started and there are several components to the programme. We were careful this time not to just go in and bait just to kill the rats, so we have developed a complete rodent programme; a programme that has an educational component to it, meeting with the relevant stakeholders, training and the actual baiting of the rodents,” she said.
The Medical Entomologist said the activities undertaken over the past month and a half before the baiting, “is to ensure sustainability and a high level of success” under the programme.
In the meantime, she said baiting would continue throughout April followed by re-baiting, monitoring to see the effect of the programme on the rodent population and the collection and burying of the pests.
“So the process will really be baiting and rebaiting and monitoring and evaluating as we go along throughout the month,” she informed, adding that the project is expected to end by mid-May.
Also included in the programme are massive clean-up days involving community members in all the areas to be baited, to eliminate breeding sites.
The initiative has been funded by a $10 million donation from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund.
Miss Huntley noted that more resources would be needed to undertake a complete islandwide rodent control exercise, and that discussions were ongoing to obtain additional funding.
“We want to do the programme with this $10 million in a professional way that (results in) maximum impact, so we can approach other agencies for donations,” she said.