Health Promotion and Education Officer at the Westmoreland Public Health Department, Gerald Miller, puts on a water drum cover during a visit to the Rose Hill community in the parish, recently.
Photo: Contributed Photo

The Westmoreland Public Health Department has been distributing water drum covers to various communities across the parish, in a bid to reduce mosquito breeding.

Health Promotion and Education Officer of the Department, Gerald Miller, told JIS News that some $100,000 was used from the health promotion budget to procure 100 drum covers to distribute to households within the parish where there is a high Aedes index.

The index refers to the percentage of premises or homes in a limited, well-defined space, where actual breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito is found and the total number of houses examined in that area.

“With the guidance of the Vector Control Officer, we were given some communities to visit and to engage persons and to distribute drum covers based on need, as 100 drum covers is a drop in the bucket,” Mr. Miller said.

He noted that it has been observed that prior to being given the drum covers, residents were making a concerted effort to cover their drums and tanks to prevent the access of mosquitoes to the containers.

“They have been using curtains, towels and so many [other] fabrics. So, what we had decided to do was to check the households based on the need, so the households where we would have seen seniors having challenges in terms of resources, we would have given them [the drum covers],” Mr. Miller outlined.

“The other households where we see evidence of persons who can use their initiative, we use one of the drum covers, which is a [nylon] mesh, something looking like a hair cover, which is made from mosquito mesh. We show them how they could utilise it or get someone in the community to build it for them, or they could put it on themselves using elastic to secure it… to prevent mosquitoes from accessing [the drums],” he added.

To date, more than 30 drum covers have been handed out in the communities of Campbell’s Land in Cornwall Mountain and Rose Hill. In the coming weeks, distribution of the covers will be done in the communities of Moreland Hill and Beeston Spring.

Meanwhile, residents of the communities are lauding the effort by the health department.

Rose Hill resident, Linda Campbell, told JIS News that the initiative was “very good, and I feel very good because all the while I talk about it”.

Another resident of Rose Hill, Marcella Henry, outlined that issuing drum covers is “a very good idea, because there are times when you might put a piece of board or maybe a piece of zinc or whatever you may find to put on it (water drum), but then maybe after a while it slide off or if it’s wood it rots, so for this kind of material [drum cover] it’s a very good thing”.

Ms. Henry said she has been spreading the word about the drum covers, because “everybody has to try to protect themselves, because you cannot depend on government all the time to come and help you when you are the person benefiting”.

Meanwhile, Chief Public Health Inspector for Westmoreland, Steve Morris, is asking other community members in the parish who can afford to cover their drums themselves to do so.

He is also encouraging persons who can make the drum covers and sell them, to do so.

Mr. Morris noted that the nylon mesh drum covers make provision for water to be caught even when a resident is not at home, “but mosquitoes will not get access to breed in it”.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of illnesses such as dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya viruses.


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