A mosquito plague and the threat of Dengue Fever seem to be driving fear in the minds of many even, as $30 million have been made available for the St James Health Department and National Solid Waste Management Authority for a bulk waste removal programme.
Yesterday’s regular monthly meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation had some tense moments during discussion on the dengue problem and efforts to contain it.
Deputy Chief Public Health Inspector, Delisa Scarlett, said regarding mosquito control, over the past month, there has been a notable increase of 3 percent in the Aedes aegypti index for the parish, adding, “despite all our efforts from the Health Department, we are still noticing that there is a persistence in mosquito breeding, so we have identified the need for source reduction.”
She said the $30 million bulk waste reduction programme commenced in Norwood last Tuesday in partnership with the NSWMA. Also, although the task work vector control programme came to a close on September 30, due to the exigencies of the service, 55 were re-engaged and subsequently, an additional 39 engaged and trained.
Recently also, the St JMC gave the Health Department three new fogging machines, making it possible for fogging to be done both morning and evening, but this was met with a chorus from councillors asking “Where? Where?” and were told, “It is ongoing.”
Additionally, the department has taken in the services of two private pest control officers and now have ULV (ultra-low volume) fogging machine and within two weeks, will be getting three new pick-ups. The NSWMA will be getting an updated list of high-risk communities to tackle.
Fresh from his vacation, Chief Executive Officer Gerald Lee questioned whether fogging was the best practice as other methods of mosquito control were now being employed in other countries. He admitted that, “The reason I’m asking is that to be honest, I’ve been experiencing the process where fogging is done and half an hour after the fogging is done, mosquitoes are still biting me.”
Ms Scarlett pointed out that fogging was only effective against adult female mosquitoes and what was most important was for citizens to pay attention to public education programmes and play their part responsibly in ensuring they destroy all breeding sites for the mosquitoes which love clean water.
There was much cross talk among some councillors on both sides of the political aisle over the question of coordination of efforts and their involvement that at times threatened to blow up with some stinging words punctuating the dialogue.
Reacting to chastisement from Senator Charles Sinclair, Councillor Sylvan Reid lashed out, “pertaining to the fogging, we need a better coordination, what is wrong with that?” He suggested Sinclair was dealing with politics and urged him to “stop it!” noting that word from an unnamed doctor is that 85 percent of patients seen “have dengue, and dat a we issue.”
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Francine Phillips Kelly, said she could neither deny nor confirm the figure quoted but noted, “With respect to Dengue Fever cases, we do have an increased number of suspected cases.”
She reported, however, that all 22 health centres in St James were up and running with extended opening hours at the comprehensive clinic on Creek Street, downtown Montego Bay.