Health Ministry moves to stem the tide of dengue infections

The extension of the Enhanced Vector Control (EVC) Programme is among the raft of measures being taken by the Ministry of Health in response to a more active dengue season.

“Each suspected and/or confirmed case of dengue is concerning to the Ministry of Health and every effort is being made to put in place measures to ensure the best possible health outcomes for each Jamaican affected,” said Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton.

The EVC programme is to be extended to March 2019, to include the employment of an additional 500 temporary workers, who will join the effort to identify and eliminate mosquito breeding sites. This is to keep the public safe from vector-borne diseases, including dengue, that are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

In addition, the public can expect:

  • Increased fogging in communities, particularly those with clusters of dengue cases;
  • Continued implementation of the USAID-ZAP programme, whose team has worked with the Ministry’s vector control staff in more than 71 communities to eliminate mosquito breeding sites; and
  • Ongoing collaboration with the University of the West Indies, Mona at the Mosquito Control and Research Unit to reduce the spread of vector-borne diseases.

“The vector control efforts of the Ministry and its partners have been shown to yield success. However, the gains can only be sustained and multiplied by the householder taking action. We, therefore, encourage members of the public to support our interventions by keeping their homes and places of work free of mosquito breeding sites,” said Director of the Health Promotion and Protection Branch at the Ministry, Dr. Simone Spence.

Meanwhile, with the increase in dengue cases helping to put pressure on the public health system, the Ministry is also working with its regional teams to address the overcrowding at some facilities, including at Bustamante Hospital for Children, where:

  • At least one roving nurse is stationed, together with Customer Service Officers, to respond to patients’ needs as they come in;
  • Senior Managers have been rostered to give administrative coverage after 5:00 PM and on weekends; and
  • There is additional employment of Enrolled assistant nurses to complement Registered Nurses.

 

Other response measures include:

  • Extended opening hours at several health centres within the South East Health Region;
  • Increased sessional staff (nurses and doctors) in hospitals’ Accident and Emergency Departments; and
  • Increased customer service representatives.

 

“The public can feel sure that we are doing all that is within our power, given the current demand and within the bounds of available resources, to ensure timely access and quality care for our patients,” noted Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.