Health Ministry working to dispel myths surrounding transmission of mosquito borne diseases

Kingston, Jamaica — Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson says the ministry is working to dispel the myths surrounding the transmission of the chikungunya virus after a survey done in the aftermath of the outbreak showed that more 50 per cent of respondents did not feel that the virus was caused by mosquitoes.

He was speaking at Wednesday’s Town Hall meeting held at Mandela Park in Half Way Tree, St Andrew and hosted by the South East Regional Health Authority in partnership with the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation.

“Even though governments must lead, citizens have an important role and must play their part in protecting their health. Chikungunya, zika virus and dengue are caused by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito and until we understand that this is a domesticated mosquito – meaning that it breeds, lives and thrives among people – then we can really prepare better,” Dr Ferguson.

He explained that the ministry has been undertaking several initiatives towards reducing the mosquito population, the most recent being the distribution of a mesh covering for 45-55 gallon drums to parish councils.

“About 4-5 weeks ago we invited the mayors in for a briefing session as we introduced a drum cover which is a mesh so that they can help to get the use of the covering into communities. The covers prevent the mosquito from entering the water being stored in the drums and therefore significantly reduce the possibility of the breeding of mosquitoes,” the minister said.

This is the first of a series of Town Hall meetings to be hosted by the South East Regional Health Authority. Others are being planned for St Catherine and St Thomas. The meeting covered areas including vector borne diseases (CHIKV, Zika virus and dengue), water safety and the safe and proper handling of food.

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