Sunday 20 October, 2019

$250 million increase in funding to combat dengue fever - Tufton

Dr Christopher Tufton (file photo)

Dr Christopher Tufton (file photo)

The Government says it will be increasing funding by at least $250 million for its ongoing control initiatives in light of the revelation that the island is now experiencing an outbreak of dengue fever.

The Government says it will also be moving to employ 500 more vector control aides to bring the overall number to 1,000, as well as providing additional hospital space for people suspected of carrying the virus.

The Health Ministry said it will also be extending the public education programme, and engaging the Ministry of Local Government and the municipal corporations to improve the disposal of garbage across the country

In an emergency meeting on Thursday, the Health Ministry confirmed that there is a dengue fever outbreak in the country.

Portfolio Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, said for December, there were 123 reported dengue cases. This number includes suspected, presumed and confirmed cases.

It was revealed that the number exceeds the outbreak threshold of 96 cases.

Tufton noted that seven deaths suspected to have emanated from dengue were recorded in 2018, with two having been confirmed as such.

He told the briefing that he would be meeting with the Cabinet, including Finance and the Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, to seek additional support for the planned campaign against the dengue outbreak.

“We urge every Jamaican to recognise that our defence against this virus is a proactive approach and a preventative approach, which means that persons should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings,” said Tufton.

“So the public has a very important role to play, and I want to urge us all to play our part,” he added.

The health ministry has also triggered the Emergency Operation, International Health Regulations, as well as the National Emergency Operations centres.

In addition, the ministry has designated extended opening hours for the Stony Hill, Olympic Gardens, Glen Vincent and Slipe Pen Road Comprehensive Health centres in Kingston and St Andrew; Morant Bay Health Centre in St Thomas; St Jago Park and Greater Portmore health centres in St Catherine; St Ann's Bay Health Centre; Annotto Bay, Highgate, Oracabessa and Gayle health centres in St Mary; Mandeville Regional Hospital, and Spaulding Health Centre in Manchester; May Pen Health Centre in Clarendon; Montego Bay Type V Hospital in St James; and Savanna-la-Mar Health Centre in Westmoreland.

Tufton said an extended public education campaign has also commenced, and will continue until the end of January 2019, involving public service announcements about mosquito breeding sites and symptoms of dengue. In addition, personal protection tips are being shared in the print and electronic media, as well as on social media; and 50,000 flyers and 50,000 brochures are presently being disseminated to the health centres and hospitals across the island.

All points of entries have been sensitised and educational materials distributed; and the ministry's public relations unit, facilitated by the medical officers of health within the respective parishes, will engage with the parish councils and the Ministry of Local Government as it relates to the removal of domestic waste/garbage from communities.

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