Officials are warning that there has been a re-emergence of vector-borne diseases in Dominica over the past ten years and this threatens to negatively impact the health of the population and the island’s economy.
The country has recorded several hundred cases of Dengue Fever with more than 500 cases in 2010. Over 70 cases of Leptospirosis was recorded from 2010 to 2015 and in 2014 to 2015 Dominica was severely affected by an outbreak of the Chickunguya Virus.
Junior Minister in the Ministry of Health and Environment with special responsibility for the Environment, Ivor Stephenson, is warning that the island is at risk for more diseases.
“The country is at risk for the spread of Malaria, West Nile Virus and Zika Virus since the vectors transmitting these diseases are present on the island and the diseases are endemic in regional countries,” he stated as Dominica observes Environmental Health Month. “These vector-borne diseases have the potential to overwhelm the country’s capacity to respond.”
Stephenson noted that in view of the serious health risks and harm from the vectors that transmit these diseases, and recognizing the limited availability of effective drugs and vaccines for the treatment of some of them, “infection prevention and vector control are essential to reducing the burden of vector-borne diseases.”
He informed that an Integrated Vector Control Plan (IVCP) has been developed which promotes a collaborative approach to manage vector-borne diseases but residents must keep the environment safe.
“Promotion of a safe environment must become part of our culture,” he said. “It must be nature at schools and maintain at our workplaces and our communities. Past Generations left this island on a sound environmental footing, the onus is now upon us to leave Dominica on a better environmental health platform for future generations.”
Environmental Health Month is being observed throughout the month of June under the theme: “Protecting Our Environment for Future Generations.” Focus will be on issues of Food Safety with special emphasis on Fish Sanitation, Vector Control and Occupational Health and Safety.
Other activities planned for Environment Health Month include Community clean up campaigns, education walk-thru in communities with high Aedes Aegypti Mosquito infestation and holding of a National Workshop on Pest Management for managers and Supervisors of Food Establishments.
Stephenson also called on the citizenry to action which he stated will contribute to a healthy people and a sustainable environment.
Some of the actions include:
-Promotion of composting and reuse of solid waste
-Limit use of toxic chemicals in food production
-consumption of wholesome foods
-Increase production of organic foods
-Avoid pollution of our rivers and marine waters with waste, soil and chemicals
-Water containers provide housing for the Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes, keep them covered when not in use
-adoption of cleaner energy to reduce the impact of climate change