National Broadcast By the Prime Minister
Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller ON, MP
On Preparations to Reduce the Impact of the Zika Virus on Jamaica
To be Aired or Tuesday Night February 2
My fellow Jamaicans:
The Ministry of Health has confirmed one case of the Zika virus in Jamaica. It involves a child who recently traveled overseas. We are thankful that the four year old child, who was infected, has recovered.
This confirmation is not a cause for alarm, but it must instill greater urgency to do all we can to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.
I am deeply concerned about this threat to public health.
Every one of us has a duty to destroy mosquito breeding sites.
Since the Government was advised of the presence of the Zika virus in the Americas, we have been doing everything we can to ensure that adequate vector control efforts are carried out across the country.
Over the past several months, the Government has heightened the country’s vector control programme and public information activities.
The frequency of fogging in several high-risk communities has been increased.
Volunteers have been deployed in communities to assist with identifying and destroying mosquito breeding sites.
The Government has also provided funding to increase Jamaica’s capacity to test for the virus.
At the same time, we are ensuring that adequate supplies of pharmaceuticals are available free of cost at public health facilities.
The Ministry has been working with the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the Caribbean Public Health Agency, to ensure an effective response.
Additional financial and human resources have been provided to the Ministry of Health and other Government entities, so that they can be more effective in their actions.
The Ministry of Health will spend an additional Two Hundred Million dollars to deal with the Zika virus threat.
At the same time a major cleanup campaign will be undertaken by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing under the JEEP Programme, with funding from the Tourism Enhancement fund.
Given the associated health risks, especially for pregnant women, the Ministry of Health has advised women to delay getting pregnant for the next 6 to 12 months.
Of course, ladies, this is your personal choice.
The National Family Planning Board has increased its public information and other interventions. It will assist Jamaicans with family planning options free of cost.
Those women who are already pregnant are urged to be particularly vigilant against being bitten by mosquitoes.
I have also instructed the Minister of Health to increase preparations across the island and to engage all sectors in a local and national response.
Everyone must 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 borne virus.
Everyone must exercise personal responsibility in this regard.
Here is how you can take action starting right now. You can:
Look for items in which water can settle, and cover them.
Do not dump garbage in drains and gullies.
Dispose of old tyres properly.
Empty and scrub flower vases twice weekly.
Organize clean-up campaigns in your home, school and workplace.
Use insect repellent containing DEET to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes; and
Open windows and doors during fogging.
My fellow Jamaicans: as a nation, we have faced many challenges and have always overcome them when we work together.
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.
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 of us.
Our people are our greatest asset: our greatest resource. Let every Jamaican join hands and hearts to protect ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and our beloved nation,
May God bless you and continue to bless Jamaica, land we love.