Barbadians concerned about dengue and accessing related health services at polyclinics across the island will soon have these addressed.
This was stressed on Monday by Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, as they responded to a question at the press conference held at Ilaro Court to update the country on the status of COVID-19 here.
Minister Bostic, in outlining his Ministry’s dengue programme, said: “We have been tracking dengue; we have been trying to do some confirmatory tests because the same PCR testing unit is utilised to do that. But we’ve also been ramping up our response in terms of identifying the mosquito breeding sites, and also a number of fogging teams that we have brought on and we are waiting the arrival of fogging equipment from overseas – both fogging machines for trucks as well as handheld foggers, so that we will move to having 14 teams operating across the country.”
He continued: “We have a big challenge as far as the Ministry is concerned, based on the calls that are being made by people in relation to mosquitoes, but we are engaging with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and across the polyclinic system to see exactly where we are with reports of dengue and the CMO (Chief Medical Officer) would have reported before that we had a spike in October, I believe, and then it came back down in November, but as you can appreciate, we are trying to fight both, the COVID as we have been doing in December, and dengue, but we would be in a better position to report on that in the coming days.”
Prime Minister Mottley revealed that as Minister of Finance, the decision was taken, at the end of September, to give the Ministry of Health significantly more resources to be able to deal with the dengue problem and de-bushing.
However, she expressed the view that it was a case of the entire country coming together to fight the problem.
She said: “It’s not just a governmental problem. I’ve been a Member of Parliament … and involved in public life for over 30 years. And, I know that there was a time where people just took care of around them, so that even if you don’t own the land, [you would] move the ‘tot’, or move the thing that is collecting the water next door to you, or in some instances, you may have to actually de-bush.”
Ms. Mottley continued: “I want to use this opportunity to reach out to Barbadians, and to say that I believe that all of us can do far more if we seek to take responsibility for the areas, immediately in our vicinity, even if they’re not ours. Why? Because a mosquito does not see boundaries or boundary lines or any of that; a mosquito is going to breed, and it is going to bite. And, by the same token, I have a team of people looking to see what are some of the novel approaches that we can do going forward to fight dengue because there are a number of scientific approaches globally that are attractive, but we are in the midst of doing the investigations now.”
The Prime Minister also emphasised that resources had been amplified, with some five teams being deployed across the country.
Adding that Government had doubled the number of workers as part of the COVID-19 Relief Programme, Ms. Mottley noted that as a result of enhanced rainfall during October and November, what was known as the ‘360 programme’ is now the ‘720 programme’, where 720 people are going to work every day in the country “to help relieve us of some of the bush and some of the other things that have caused problems”.
The Prime Minister also reminded Barbadians that although COVID was the immediate menace, it was not the only threat, and the island was dealing with a multiplicity of issues.
Acknowledging that one person recently died from dengue, and no COVID-19 deaths had been recorded for some time, she expressed confidence that Barbados had “what it takes to get past this”.