The Chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Doctor Keith Mitchell, has declared this month one of concerted action by all stakeholders against the dreaded Zika virus.
Mitchell, who is Prime Minister of Grenada, declared that the enemy – the tiny mosquito, cannot be fought by government ministries alone.
“Every one of us must play our part in creating safe living and working spaces in which mosquitos are eliminated. We urge each and every one of you to play your part in this war,” he said in a statement today.
Mitchell said the sub-region does not intend to take the Zika threat lightly.
The Grenada Prime Minister disclosed that although to date there have been no confirmed cases of Zika in the majority of OECS Member States, proactive measures are currently being implemented a.
He also stated that stronger coordination of effort will be seen in the coming weeks.
Mitchell outlined a number of measures that are already being taken and asserted that the OECS Council of Ministers will be actively overseeing a four-prong new campaign.
He revealed that the campaign will include public education, eradication and protection actions, care and case management and monitoring and surveillance.
“The campaign and we will involve the private sector, especially the tourism industry, the trade unions, churches and other civic bodies in what must be a national effort,” he explained.
Mitchell stated that at the regional level, the air and sea ports and main means of sea and air transportation will be asked to play a key role in preventing vector transmission.
He said that the OECS Pharmaceutical Procurement Service will be undertaking central purchasing of mosquito control related commodities and services, to ensure that the sub region will be able to obtain sufficient quantities at the best prices.
“Public awareness is the most important weapon in this battle because we can only successfully defeat the threat of this disease if all citizens and visitors understand what must be done,” the OECS Chairman observed.
“We also need to communicate and demonstrate to the outside world the determined effort that we will undertake so that visitors will not be fearful of coming to our shores.”
While acknowledging that the battle is foremost about protecting the lives of the people of the OECS against Zika, Mitchell noted that it is also about protecting their livelihoods – the vital tourism industry on which so many rely.