Minister of Health, John Boyce, has appealed to private land owners who have overgrown lots to clear them ???for the sake of your neighbours and your country???.

He made the call this morning during a Press launch at the Ministry of Health for National Mosquito Eradication Week which takes place from Monday, November 25 to Friday, November 29.

The main objective of the week is to motivate all Barbadians to conduct regular inspections of their premises, homes, schools, workplaces and other institutions to identify places where water may collect and contribute to mosquito breeding.

???As you are aware, over the past few months, the Ministry of Health has recorded a three-fold increase in cases of Dengue Fever. To date, 689 cases have been notified, with 676 confirmed. For the same period, there have regrettably been two deaths. Data for the same period in 2012 showed 273 cases notified, of which 253 were confirmed and there was one death. These are not merely statistics, but tell us a story about Barbadians who are ill and even at risk of death, if they are susceptible to the development of severe dengue fever,??? the Health Minister surmised.

Mr. Boyce told reporters that there had been a ???lethargy and lack of response??? to past messages about clearing overgrown lots which may contribute to the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads dengue fever.

He said only about 30 to 40 per cent of land owners responded to requests from the Ministry to clear their bushy lots, adding that the annual debushing programme would soon begin.

The Health Minister noted, that rather than enforce legislation, the Ministry wanted to appeal to the civic mindedness of Barbadians.

???The appeal again is for owners of lots that are undeveloped, full of bush and not being cleaned. Owners of these lots are responsible for having [them] cleared. And, I want to appeal to Barbadians who own empty lots to make sure that you get out there and get those lots cleaned so as to help us in eradicating this mosquito.

???Yes, there is legislation. We can do the debushing and attach it to your tax bills and, that way, seek compensation. But whenever you have to resort to measures that may require litigation, you are going to even make things more difficult. Barbadians must understand that this appeal is one that they must heed for the sake of their neighbours and for the sake of the country. We will continue to enforce the law where it applies and we will continue to invoice them when we clear lots belonging to private landowners,??? he emphasised.

In outlining some of the activities for National Mosquito Eradication Week, Chief Environmental Health Officer, Tyrone Applewhaite, said that environmental health officers and public health nurses from the island???s polyclinics would be visiting all primary and secondary schools on Monday and Tuesday next week, to ???sensitise the students and the pupils of the need to inspect their premises and to reduce mosquito breeding???.

???On Wednesday and Thursday, we are expecting that all householders in Barbados find the necessary time – just 15 to 20 minutes – to search and destroy mosquitoes on their properties. On Friday, we are expecting that all managers at all institutions in Barbados including schools, hospitals and business places conduct inspections of these premises to identify mosquito breeding sites as well as destroy any mosquitoes,” he said, adding:?????I believe it is important that managers of these institutions join in this effort to eradicate dengue fever from Barbados. This week is very critical bearing in mind the number of dengue cases which continue to increase. I am encouraging all householders and business managers to get behind this initiative to assist the Ministry of Health in reducing the number of cases in Barbados.???

Mr. Applewhaite said that a number of stakeholders who would be joining in the effort. These include the National Conservation Commission, which will be inspecting their properties including parks and beaches to ensure that they are free of mosquitoes; the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, which will ensure it carries out inspections for mosquito breeding at all hotels and guest houses.

Additionally, the Chief Environmental Health Officer said the Barbados Defence Force and the Barbados Evangelical Association will also be coming on board. The Ministry of Health has developed a Facebook page where persons may post their findings as well as access an inspection checklist to make sure that they carry out their inspections correctly.

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