Fogging Vehicle and Officers Under Attack

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Environmental Health Officers who work with the Ministry of Health???s Fogging Programme have been coming under attack from residents in some districts.

The latest incident occurred as recent as last Friday, when a team from the Vector Control Unit was pelted with rocks by youngsters while they were carrying out routine fogging operations in a St. James district.

That was just but one of a number of stone throwing incidents that officers have endured throughout the years, but they reported that it has increased in frequency within the last few months, to the point where the attacks are happening almost on a weekly basis.

Senior Environmental Health Officer, Vector Control Unit, Maurice Gaskin, told the Barbados Government Information Service that if the attacks continued the offending areas would not be visited.

???Some residents feel that the fog is detrimental to their health, others feel it is interrupting their ???trade???, so they pelt at the trucks. What happens is that we pull out of the areas as soon as the stone throwing begins. Then some householders will say that we didn???t fog their district. But we have to look out for the safety of the officers. Some guys were hit in the head with rocks already. The thing is, you can???t see through the fog so you don???t see the rocks coming at you. If the guys say they are not going into these areas because they feel they are in danger, you can???t force them [to go],??? he explained.

Mr. Gaskin added that the areas where they received frequent attacks included: Bush Hall, Licorish Village, Ivy and Brittons Hill in St. Michael, in addition to Inch Marlow, Christ Church and Redman???s Village and Welches in St. Thomas.

Environmental Health Officers, Kerry Catlyn and Michael Branford, who have both been working in the fogging programme for approximately 10 years, said they were still experiencing problems with the dangerous practice of children running behind the fogging vehicle in spite of the messages being sent out in the media.

???We want children to stop from running behind the fogging vehicle, because you constantly have to stop the truck to reprimand them. There was a case where the truck stopped and a youngster ran right into it hitting his chest on the vehicle,??? Mr. Branford noted.

His colleague, Mr. Catlyn, added that some Barbadians still did not understand the need for the fogging programme. ???Some of them think the programme is not worthy of being carried out because sometimes when we fog an area they still get problems with mosquitoes, so they think it is not making a difference. But they must understand how the programme functions in terms of eradicating the mosquito. The fog kills the adult Aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads dengue fever,??? he explained.

He added: ???Here in Barbados we don???t really see the vast cases of deaths as you would in other parts of the world, but if you do your research you will realise that the Aedes aegypti mosquito kills thousands of people each year. So what we do is very important.???

The Environmental Health Officer added that districts were chosen to be fogged if there was a high incidence of dengue cases or a high mosquito population.

Two trucks are usually deployed to a given location where the two teams fog ???up wind??? and ???downwind??? to cover the targetted district, he explained, noting that not everyone exhibited hostility towards the team.

???Some people complain about the smell [of the fog], but others welcome us with open arms; they open up their homes to us. We don???t get stone throwing in all areas???Basically, I would like it to cease because we go out there and work hard for the benefit of the public. We don???t want to be injured on the job ??? someone could lose an eye or sustain other serious injuries. I am appealing to the public to cease the stone throwing,??? he implored.

The Ministry of Health???s fogging programme, which is conducted on a weekly basis, runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. each day.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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