JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller has assured the nation that the Government is decisively implementing effective vector control measures in light of the Zika Virus threat facing Jamaica and the rest of the Americas.
  • At the same time, a major clean-up campaign will be undertaken through the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing under the JEEP programme, with funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund.
  • While noting that the decision against getting pregnant is a woman’s personal choice, the Prime Minister pointed out that the National Family Planning Board has increased its public information and other interventions, and will assist Jamaicans with family planning options free of cost.

Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller has assured the nation that the Government is decisively implementing effective vector control measures in light of the Zika Virus threat facing Jamaica and the rest of the Americas. The Prime Minister has however urged citizens to play their part to stem the spread of the virus by destroying mosquito breeding sites, among other actions.

“This is a moment for a national response with individual and collective action. This is an occasion when we must demonstrate the strength of true community spirit,” Mrs. Simpson Miller has urged all Jamaicans.

Speaking during a national radio and television broadcast on Tuesday night (February 2) to update the country on preparations to reduce the impact of the Zika Virus on Jamaica, the Prime Minister said that the recent confirmation of one case in Jamaica involving a child who travelled overseas, is not cause for alarm, but rather a reminder of the need for “greater urgency to do all we can to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.”

Prime Minister Simpson Miller disclosed that the Government has heightened the country’s vector control programme and public information activities. This includes increasing the frequency of fogging in several high risk communities; deploying volunteers in communities to assist with identifying and destroying mosquito breeding sites; allocating funding to increase Jamaica’s capacity to test for the virus, and ensuring that there is adequate supplies of pharmaceuticals which are available free of cost to public health facilities.

An additional $2 million in funding and greater human resource have been provided to the Ministry of Health to address the threat, and the Ministry is also working closely with the Pan American Health Organisation, the World Health Organisation and the Caribbean Public Health Agency, to ensure a more effective response, the Prime Minister reported.

At the same time, a major clean-up campaign will be undertaken through the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing under the JEEP programme, with funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund.

Underscoring that citizens have a crucial role to play in minimising the spread of the virus, Mrs. Simpson Miller encouraged each person to get involved in taking urgent action. “Our local authorities, schools, private and public sector workplaces, churches and individuals in their homes, must be vigilant against the spread of this mosquito born virus.”

“We all have to pull together. There can be no political lines drawn where Zika is concerned. Let us remember that prevention is important for all us,” she said.

The Prime Minister encouraged members of the public to take personal responsibility, starting right now by carrying out a number of actions. These include:

• Avoiding dumping garbage in drains and gullies
• Looking for items in which water can settle and cover them
• Disposing of old tyres properly
• Emptying and scrubbing flower vases twice weekly
• Organising clean up campaigns in the home, school and workplace
• Using insect repellent containing DEET to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, and
• Opening doors and windows during fogging.

Mrs. Simpson Miller further reminded the public of the Health Ministry’s advisory that given the associated health risk, women are encouraged to delay getting pregnant for the next six to 12 months, adding that those who are already pregnant should be particularly vigilant against being bitten by mosquitoes.

While noting that the decision against getting pregnant is a woman’s personal choice, the Prime Minister pointed out that the National Family Planning Board has increased its public information and other interventions, and will assist Jamaicans with family planning options free of cost.

“Our people are our greatest assets; our greatest resource. Let every Jamaican join hands and hearts to protect ourselves, our families, our neighbours, and our beloved nation,” the Prime Minister urged.