Chief Public Health Inspector for Westmoreland, Steve Morris, is crediting the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme vector control workers at the Public Health Department for keeping the Aedes index in the parish low.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Morris lauded the workers for their hard work in helping the parish minimise the number of breeding sites by educating residents.
“For Westmoreland we have 90 workers who were assigned to the Department and we continue to use them across the parish to visit homes on a daily basis and to do inspections and ensure that residents are compliant with the recommendations on how to reduce breeding sites,” he told JIS News.
“We have been doing very well in the parish since the start of this year. Currently, our index is at five per cent, which is the acceptable standard internationally, and we have maintained that index for the last five months,” Mr. Morris said.
He added that the Ministry of Health and Wellness has extended the tenure of the HOPE programme workers until further notice. The initial tenure of the workers was six months, which was slated to end this week.
“We are grateful for it (the extension) and hope that it will continue. Even if we do not have the 90 workers, at least with 50 per cent of the cadre we have now can continue the work we have done in the parish,” Mr. Morris said, adding that the Department has eight permanent vector-control workers, a number which the Ministry is looking to increase.
He further outlined that the parish had a small spike in dengue fever notifications earlier this year; however, the number of cases has since lowered to 17 to date.
“Compared to last year at this time when we were getting 80 per month, we have seen a downward trend,” Mr. Morris informed
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of the dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya viruses.
To prevent dengue fever, persons are advised to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by getting rid of items that collect water (old drums, used tyres and plastic containers); installing mosquito nets over beds; wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants outdoors; using DEET (mosquito repellant); and regularly changing water in animal and pet containers.