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Vector-borne diseases awareness heightens

Vector-borne diseases awareness heightens


Health officials in St Vincent and the Grenadines have taken the initiative to inform citizens that “small bites” can be equivalent to “big threats.”{{more}}

In commemoration of World Health Day, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment collaborated with the National Insurance Services (NIS) to spread awareness of vector-borne diseases.

Under the theme “Small bites, big threats,” persons gathered at the Golden Age Centre in Buccament yesterday, and were sensitized on preventative measures against vector-borne diseases.

According to local Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) representative Anneke Wilson, “in the Caribbean region, significant human suffering and loss of productivity can result from the bite of mosquitoes, which are capable of spreading dengue fever, malaria and recently the chikungunya fever.

“Vector-borne diseases are a group of ailments which are usually spread to people via blood sucking insects, such as mosquitoes, fleas, small flies, mice and ticks,” Wilson explained.

In urging persons to make a commitment to achieving a vector-free surrounding, the PAHO representative noted that there are effective measures that can be taken by community members to reduce the threat.

“Specific actions which you can undertake include clean up and disposal of all garbage and refuse which can hold water, covering and properly sealing water storage containers and waste water systems and draining pools of stagnant water or treating them with chemicals to kill mosquitoes,” Wilson said.

Luis deShong, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, noted that while these diseases may be preventable, many persons can be susceptible to contracting one, “especially those who are faced with the reality of inadequate housing, safe drinking water, and proper sanitation.”

Furthermore, deShong indicated that the groups of persons who are likely to contract a vector disease include young persons, malnourished persons and those with weakened or compromised immune systems, such as the elderly.

“The elderly are especially prone to these types of diseases, very often because they live alone and are unable to move about freely or are unable to take adequate measures to take proper care of themselves,” the Permanent Secretary said.

“It is therefore of vital importance that we educate you on what can be done by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, the community…the family and by each individual in a bid to prevent vector-borne diseases. It is also important and necessary that we all work together by removing the sources or breeding ground of these vectors.”

In order to prevent a vector-borne disease, deShong noted several techniques that could be used, which included keeping the surroundings clean by discarding containers, changing water in vases every two days and washing roots of vase and plants, by covering water drums tightly and cleaning gutters of debris.

In brief remarks, Reginald Thomas, the executive director of NIS, noted that as a pension provider, he saw it fit for the company to be a part of the initiative.

He also revealed that a similar event was taking place at the Golden Age Centre in Black Point.

“We are doing that simply because we want to ensure that information in relation to vector-borne diseases is made available to you so that the issue of prevention and protection and continued safeguarding of your wellbeing becomes important for you,” he said.

Thomas indicated that yesterday’s proceeding, which included a health exhibition, and blood and pressure testing, was for persons to educate themselves on the issue at hand. (BK)