JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the dengue epidemic is not just unique to Jamaica but is a global and regional problem.
  • In an interview with JIS News following a vector control programme tour of sections of Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth on September 13, Dr. Tufton said that in Latin America and the Caribbean, there have been almost two million reported cases of dengue and more than 700 deaths over the past seven months alone.
  • He added that it is inevitable that Jamaica would be feeling the effects of it and warned that a new approach must be taken to combat a disease that has been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the leading causes of illness and death among children in some Latin American and Asian countries.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the dengue epidemic is not just unique to Jamaica but is a global and regional problem.

In an interview with JIS News following a vector control programme tour of sections of Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth on September 13, Dr. Tufton said that in Latin America and the Caribbean, there have been almost two million reported cases of dengue and more than 700 deaths over the past seven months alone.

He added that it is inevitable that Jamaica would be feeling the effects of it and warned that a new approach must be taken to combat a disease that has been listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the leading causes of illness and death among children in some Latin American and Asian countries.

“We cannot use the same approach or the approach that we have used in the past. We have to adjust our approaches,” Dr. Tufton emphasised.

“Places that were normally risky are now risk factors. We also have to ensure that we sensitise and educate the public, so that persons can know what to do in their immediate environment,” he added.

The Minister said the purpose of touring the two parishes was not to look for breeding sites, but to create a sense of awareness where residents would be better informed as to the important role they play in the fight to prevent the spread of dengue.

“We continue to believe that the best form of response to the dengue alert is through public education and public action. We take the issue of dengue very seriously and will continue to do that,” Dr. Tufton said.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease that has rapidly spread in all regions in recent years. The virus is transmitted mainly by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. This mosquito also transmits chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses. Dengue is widespread throughout the tropics, with local variations in risk influenced by rainfall, temperature and unplanned rapid urbanisation.

According to the WHO, there is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care lower fatality rates to below one per cent.

The international health body also notes that dengue prevention and control depends on effective vector control measures.