Cummings calls for probe into dengue fever deaths
DANIEL CUMMINGS, the New Democratic Party’s shadow minister for health is calling on the government to initiate “a serious independent investigation” into the deaths caused as a result of dengue fever locally.
To date, six persons have died from complications of dengue fever since the outbreak of the mosquito borne disease was first noted in June/July 2020.
A release from the ministry of Health on October 2 identified the sixth individual as a 30-yearold female with a pre-existing condition.
An adult female, a nine-year old male, four-year-old male, an elderly male and 40-year-old male have also died.
“I am saying…categorically, there must be a serious investigation, independent investigation into the death of these people who died from dengue, with particular emphasis on the four year old, to understand if there are problems in the delivery of healthcare and how those problems must be addressed,” Cummings said at a press conference
last week Wednesday, prior to the deaths of two of the persons.
The politician said the investigation is not with the intent of scapegoating but rather to pinpoint problems in the healthcare delivery system.
The vector of dengue fever, as well as other diseases like chikungunya and Zika is the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
And Cummings noted that information garnered from the index used locally to show how mosquitoes breed indicate that governments should be concerned when more than 5 per cent of households are breeding mosquitoes.
Using statistics at last week’s press conference, he highlighted that household mosquito indices for SVG from 2012 to 2016 were between 18 and 26 per cent.
He added that while the information shows that SVG had over five times the allowed limit of 5 per cent in 2016, government reduced allocations for the Vector Control Unit on at least two occasions, after 2016.
“…They are not sure there is a protocol established for dealing with dengue. When you know that your mosquito index is high, when you had the last episode in 2012, when CARPHA tells you that you must look out for an outbreak, you don’t put a protocol in place?” Cummings said of the ministry.
Minister of Health, Luke Browne issued a statement on his ministry’s response to dengue on September 23, in which he noted that an additional 10 doctors and six nurses were being hired as a result of the uptick of cases and persons visiting the health facilities. But Cummings accused the ministry of dropping the ball, especially since there was a dengue fever outbreak in 2012.
“The ministry has the warning; the ministry has the statistics. The
ministry does nothing. Long after the horse is bolted and people are dying, you’re talking about hiring doctors. Is this what St Vincent and the Grenadines must rely on for healthcare?”
He noted that dengue fever is preventable and persons do not have to die as a result of being infected.
Cummings also said fogging should be a last resort.
“What we need to do is systematically clean the country up starting with the householders and starting with the stagnant pools. If you remove the mosquito at the source, fogging then becomes limited in little pockets that you work on,” he said.
The NDP’s spokesperson for health added that malathion, a pesticide used to control pests like mosquitoes in fogging programmes, can also do a lot of other damage.
“It affects our agriculture, it affects wildlife, it affects a lot of things. You do it when you have a crisis. We should not have a crisis. We should have dealt with the source of the mosquito a long time ago and that’s how a sensible country operates,” he said.
As at Tuesday, September 29, 514 persons have been confirmed by laboratory tests to have dengue fever.