- Several key stakeholders from Montego Bay and its environs attended the St. James Public Health Services Vector Control Symposium, which was held at the RIU Montego Bay Resort recently.
- The event was coordinated in partnership with the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
- Executive Director of the TEF, Dr. Carey Wallace, told stakeholders that the organisation has had a long-standing partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to assist vector-control efforts.
Several key stakeholders from Montego Bay and its environs attended the St. James Public Health Services Vector Control Symposium, which was held at the RIU Montego Bay Resort recently.
The event was coordinated in partnership with the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
Executive Director of the TEF, Dr. Carey Wallace, told stakeholders that the organisation has had a long-standing partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to assist vector-control efforts.
“Tourism has been a part of your vector-control programme for many years. In fact, when I look at the record, since 2014 the amount of investment we have made in the vector-control programme is over half a billion dollars,” Dr. Wallace said.
“It goes to show how seriously we take this investment in ensuring Jamaica is safe, seamless and secure,” he emphasised.
For his part, Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis, commended the St. James Public Health Services for the work being done to combat the outbreak of dengue in the parish.
In his speech, read by Councillor of the Montego Bay South Division, Richard Vernon, the Mayor noted that the St. James Municipal Corporation provided support to the St. James Public Health Department by donating fogging machines in September of this year.
“This reinforcement was done at a cost of $1.4 million, and from all reports, these machines are being effectively utilised in regular vector-control operations,” he said.
The Mayor also encouraged citizens to play their part in ensuring that the island’s barrier zones achieve an Aedes index of zero per cent.
Barrier zones are areas surrounding the island’s port of entries, such as the airports and cruise-ship piers.
“Points of entry are very important to our tourism industry. We have to ensure that they are safeguarded, so that our visitors can be safe travelling to and from Jamaica. The safety of our citizens is equally important and, therefore, I make an appeal to all Jamaicans to be proactive in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases,” Councillor Davis said.
The Mayor called on residents to support the mosquito-eradication programme, as “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.
Councillor Davis also encouraged Community Development Committees (CDCs) to “evoke your spirit of volunteerism and implement mosquito-eradication projects to help in this fight”.
Meanwhile, Medical Officer of Health at the St. James Public Health Services, Dr. Francine Phillips-Kelly, appealed to stakeholders not to abuse vector-control workers as they carry out their functions in communities across the parish.
“When you see our staff members, please cooperate with them,” she urged.
In the meantime, she pointed out that a more targeted approach was being taken in terms of fogging in the parish.
“What we have been able to do is to have entire communities being fogged… focusing on all the avenues, alleys and lanes,” Dr. Phillips-Kelly said.
She also called on persons to protect themselves from mosquitoes by using repellents that contain DEET, and to wear light-coloured clothes that cover the body.
Residents were also encouraged to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by getting rid of items that collect water (old drums, used tyres and plastic containers); to install mosquito nets over beds, and regularly changing water in animal and pet containers.
The symposium brought together stakeholders to discuss the Aedes aegypti mosquito, mosquito-borne illnesses, as well as the prevention and destruction of mosquito breeding sites in the region.
The theme for the event was ‘Mosquito control: Joining the fight against dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases’.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of the dengue, Zika and chikungunya viruses.