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Story Highlights

  • The Westmoreland Health Department has stepped up its thrust to educate citizens in the parish about dengue fever.
  • “We have been carrying out dengue sensitisation in several communities as well as partnering with schools,” Health Promotions and Education Officer, Gerald Miller, told JIS News.
  • “We engage the teachers by asking them to pass on information in their lessons. They (teachers) are on board, as they too have seen the potential risks,” he added.

The Westmoreland Health Department has stepped up its thrust to educate citizens in the parish about dengue fever.

“We have been carrying out dengue sensitisation in several communities as well as partnering with schools,” Health Promotions and Education Officer, Gerald Miller, told JIS News.

“We engage the teachers by asking them to pass on information in their lessons. They (teachers) are on board, as they too have seen the potential risks,” he added.

The sessions carried out at the schools are interactive, with children asked to identify mosquito breeding sites on a diagram. “It provokes their thoughts and helps them to be more vigilant in the search for mosquito breeding sites,” Mr. Miller said.

He said that teachers are also encouraged to show students potential breeding areas on the school compound, “so they (students) can start to internalise and process the information and realise that certain items that are thrown outside can become breeding ground for mosquitoes”.

“Children are good messengers because they take home the information to their parents, so we have to target them,” he noted.

Mr. Miller said that the department has a programme on a local radio station that airs every Wednesday, which it utilises to impart information about the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Town crier services are also being employed to educate citizens in vulnerable communities.

“We have been working as a team, getting the information out and engaging persons in the clinics, telling them how they can destroy breeding sites, among other information,” Mr. Miller noted further.

He told JIS News that various organisations have been inviting the health department to share information about dengue, and members of the Health Promotions and Education Unit have been making presentations at churches and service club meetings.

“Information about mosquito breeding is something that we have to keep in the public domain constantly, as some persons still do not see mosquitos as a real threat, but they are a threat because they spread diseases. So, we continue to impress that on the minds of the people, [and] we will continue to work [in the parish] to see how best we can get the people to process the information,” Mr. Miller said.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, recently announced the addition of more than 20 new vector control workers for the parish.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of the dengue, Zika and chikungunya viruses.

Symptoms of dengue include sudden onset of high fever with a severe headache; fatigue; pain behind the eyes; muscle, bone or joint pain; skin rash; and vomiting or feeling nauseous.