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    • The Ministry of Health this year doubled the number of communities where its vector control programme was administered up to the end of September, to 1,000.
    • This, according to the Head of the Ministry’s Health Promotion and Protection Branch, Dr. Simone Spence, is up from an average of 500 between January and May.
    • She was speaking at a press briefing at the Ministry’s head office in New Kingston on Wednesday (December 12).

    The Ministry of Health this year doubled the number of communities where its vector control programme was administered up to the end of September, to 1,000.

    This, according to the Head of the Ministry’s Health Promotion and Protection Branch, Dr. Simone Spence, is up from an average of 500 between January and May.

    She was speaking at a press briefing at the Ministry’s head office in New Kingston on Wednesday (December 12).

    Dr. Spence said the Ministry was able to cover more communities by recruiting an additional 900 persons under its temporary worker programme, which enabled an increase in the number of visits conducted.

    This engagement, which was initiated in 2016, employs additional field personnel between July and December to administer the vector-control programme.

    Dr. Spence noted that the vector-control activities have been bearing fruit, citing Portland as an example, which she said recorded a 60 per cent reduction in the number of homes found with breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever.

    She pointed out, however, that the Ministry’s teams continue to see inactivity in terms of the level of householder involvement in eliminating these breeding sites.

    “When we repeat visits [to] some homes in particular communities, we are still seeing that about 62 per cent of these homes have active breeding sites. Once this [householder] inactivity persists, then it creates the possibility of having vector-borne disease outbreaks,” she warned.

    Dr. Spence said based on the dynamics of the transmission of these arboviruses, the sole efforts of the Ministry and its partners cannot stem the possibility of an outbreak.

    “Householders, therefore, play a critical role in terms of addressing this issue,” she emphasised.

    Dr. Spence said the Ministry continues to work with partners such as the University of the West Indies, through the Mosquito Control and Research Unit, to identify innovative solutions to control this particular vector population.

    “One such activity is research into an early warning system for arboviruses, which is being investigated, a major component of which is viral isolation from these mosquitoes. So through these types of initiatives, we hope to be able to control the vector,” she said.