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Health Minister reports to Parliament on chikungunya

Health Minister reports to Parliament on chikungunya

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As at the end of August 2014, 920 cases of the chikungunya virus had been reported in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

This was revealed by Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment Clayton Burgin last Friday, while making a ministerial statement at the House of Assembly.{{more}}

“But this, as far as we are aware, is significant underreporting, owing to the many misconceptions about the disease, people not seeking medical attention for mild cases, and also self-diagnosis,” Burgin said.

The Health Minister noted that since the outbreak in April, cases were initially confined to the Grenadine island of Bequia. Since then, however, the virus has affected the entire country with cases reported in all Grenadine islands and the mainland.

“To date, there have been 507 cases in Bequia, 109 in Canaoun, 279 in Union and 25 in other areas. The virus is affecting both men and women almost equally with 45.25 per cent of the affected population being male and 34.7 per cent female,” he said.

According to Burgin, the Ministry has responded by putting various measures in place to decrease the spread of the virus.

“Many strategies have been used, which include health promotion activities, vector control activities and public health surveillance,” the Health Minister said.

The utilization of media, intensification of the insect vector control programme, fogging of communities and training of physicians in early detection and management of the virus was included in the measures that were introduced.

“The insect vector control unit has played a very pivotal role in source reduction. The professionals in that particular unit go into communities and carry out extensive inspections in an attempt to identify breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Upon finding these sites… they educate householders and community members about how to avoid breeding grounds and then carry out source reduction measures to destroy the mosquitoes,” Burgin explained.

“This intensified insect vector control plan has an estimated cost of approximately EC$224,000 thus far. The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment understands that the fight against the aedes aegypti is indeed a very difficult one; therefore, we continue to urge everyone to play a role in helping to decrease this virus. We have engaged stakeholders on all levels.”(BK)