Be Vigilant Against Vector Borne Diseases

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Barbadians need to do more to prevent the prevalence of vector borne diseases in this island.

So says Minister of Health John Boyce, who made the comments on Monday as he addressed a health fair organised by the Lions and Leo Clubs of Barbados in Independence Square.

It was staged to mark World Health Day under the theme: Small Bite, Big Threat: Protect Yourself from Vector Borne Diseases.

Mr. Boyce pointed out that according to the World Health Organization, more than half of the world???s population was at risk from vectors, and each year there were more than one billion cases and over one million deaths from vector borne diseases.

???We encourage householders to check around their homes at least once per week for places where water collects. If water is found it should be treated with the appropriate insecticide or the container emptied and washed out. Householders are reminded to use the self-inspections checklist issued by the Environmental Health Department last year. The checklist is available on the Ministry of Health???s Facebook page or from the Health Promotion Unit at the Ministry of Health. I would also encourage you to contact the Environmental Health Department of the polyclinic closest to where you live if you require further assistance,??? he advised.

He noted that the Environmental Health Department had taken steps to deal with the issue of ???closed houses??? or those where no one was at home when an Officer visited. Mr. Boyce said in such instances a visitation card was introduced and left at the home.

He explained that the card provides contact information requesting the householder to contact the polyclinic to arrange a visit at a time that was convenient for them. ???It is hoped that this initiative will increase the number of homes that are inspected and consequently, reduce the mosquito indices in our communities,??? he stated.

???It is these small, yet effective vector control methods, along with Government???s efforts that can prevent the ???small bite??? of vectors from becoming a ???big threat???. Remember, there are no vaccines against Dengue or Chikungunya. Consequently, vector control is our most effective tool,??? he pointed out.

The Health Minister, therefore, urged all Barbadians to pay close attention to their living environment, since, if not properly managed, could cause a severe increase in the spread of vector borne diseases. ???Cooperate with us; follow the guidance of public health officials, especially the Environmental Health Officers and work with us for a healthier Barbados,??? he implored.

In 1955 the Government of Barbados set-up the Aedes aegypti Eradication Service with the assistance of the Pan American Health Organization. It was part of a regional strategy to prevent an anticipated outbreak of Yellow Fever.

cathy.lashley@barbados.gov.bb

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