With the increase in dengue fever, the Vector Control Unit of the Ministry of Health is calling on Barbadians to play their part in reducing the number of mosquito breeding sites on the island.
Senior Environmental Health Officer, Lester Cumberbatch noted that it required the entire population to have a vested interest in preventing dengue. He said, “It is imperative that the community, including individuals, groups and private sector entities join in partnership with the Ministry of Health in the prevention and control of dengue.”
“Individuals should do inspections of their premises – homes, businesses and schools – weekly to ensure that there is no stagnant water and no containers that could contribute to mosquito breeding.”
Mr. Cumberbatch identified drums, plastic buckets and tyres as the main sources of mosquito breeding which environmental health officers were unearthing when they inspected homes and other places. And, he said, “We need the people to help us in this effort; the containers are increasing; people are keeping a lot of unnecessary and useless containers on their premises and these are creating problems for environmental health.”
He urged those who wanted to keep containers for storing water to place screens on them. “Prevention is still the best response. Dengue fever can be prevented by maintaining a clean environment; eliminating pools of stagnant water where mosquitoes live and covering receptacles that store water.”
The importance of debushing was also stressed by Mr. Cumberbatch. He noted that tyres and containers were also found idle in bushy, overgrown areas. He said: “We want people to know that this situation can lead to the accumulation of water in these receptacles and this then becomes a source for mosquito breeding.”
The senior environmental health officer also highlighted the role of the fogging programme which he said would continue to be a major plank in ridding the island of the deadly aedes aegypti mosquito, the cause of dengue. However, he cautioned that there had been some challenges to the programme that could negatively impact the work of environmental health officers.
He explained: “In recent times, we have had several incidents of stone-throwing at Ministry personnel carrying out the fogging operation. This is a serious offence because in addition to interrupting the operations, it affects the officers in the execution of their duties. Officers are very concerned about their personal health and safety. It can lead to a situation where we may be forced to curtail fogging activities in the particular districts.”
Some of the districts, where mostly teenage youth have been identified as the culprits, include Haynesville, Ivy, Licorish Village, Brandons and Carrington Village, all in St. Michael and Mr. Cumberbatch is warning that individuals “desist from these lawless acts of stone-throwing as the action is punishable by law.”