THE fight against Zika and other mosquito borne diseases in St. Lucia continues. This was manifested on Monday when the world’s oldest public health agency, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) donated two foggers and a large quantity of bed nets to the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Earlier this year St. Lucia recorded its first case of Zika and ever since there has been a steady increase throughout the island. However, the Ministry of Health through its operational agency, the Environmental Health Department along with the Bureau of Health Education has been relentless in educating and sensitizing the communities.
During a brief Handing Over ceremony in the Conference room of the Environmental Health Department , Valerie Beach-Horne, PAHO Country Specialist said the donation is a fulfillment of PAHO’s mission in St. Lucia.
She said: “These bed nets are to assist the Environmental Health Department to further strengthen their vector control efforts and in particular the response to the Zika outbreak which we suffered earlier this year and still continue to feel the effects of. Our mission is to strategically help our member countries and work with our partners to protect the public health and to strengthen our public health responses in order to lengthen the lives and the quality of lives of the people of the Americas.”
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George thanked PAHO for the donation saying it will go a long way towards reducing neonatal complications arising from the effects of the Zika Virus
She said: “As part of the strengthening mechanism of our antenatal care, one of the recommendations that we have made is to ensure that every pregnant woman in St. Lucia, everybody who accesses our antenatal clinics would get a package which includes the bed nets to reduce their contact with the Aedesaegypti Mosquito. So, we are quite pleased to receive this donation of the bed nets which will definitely be used within all of our health regions and all of our antenatal clinics to ensure that our women are using those bed nets to reduce the chances of them acquiring the Zika Virus disease.”
But in spite of the use of fogging equipment and other materials, it is always a good practice to keep surroundings clean and free from breeding of mosquitoes. Environmental Health Officer, Charletta Charles explains.
Charles added: “It is not just fogging operations which will reduce our mosquito population. We also have to remember that it’s all about source reduction and larval reduction as well. So as much as we are going to carry out our fogging operations, we have to remember that we have containers in and around our homes that need to be covered. And, we also have small items in and around our homes which will collect water and contribute to mosquito breeding.”
The United Kingdom Department for International Development also assisted in funding the items.