Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Today, keep Zika Away,” is the theme for the 2016 Vector Awareness Week of activities organised by the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations.
The week which runs from March 14th – 19th commenced with a march from the Babonneau Playing Field to the Babonneau Multi-purpose Centre.
Lead by the Royal St. Lucia Police Band, students from various schools within the Babonneau area including preschools, Primary Schools and the Babonneau Secondary School marched and canted a spirited refrain“Aedes Mosquito making us sick, we need to keep the place tidy, we need to keep the drums covered, NO ZIKA VIRUS!!!”
At the launching ceremony which followed Chairperson of the Babonneau Constituency Council, Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte, pledged the councils support in controlling and sensitizing the community on the spread of vector borne diseases which she said is increasing posing a significant burden on communities.
“The council has been very proactive in safeguarding its constituents from the recent outbreak of Zika Virus by initiating a community cleanup campaign in the month of February 2016. This project was held in concurrence with the Ministry of Health, St. Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority and the residents of the Babonneau Community extending from Balata to Des Barres. As a result of this joint venture the community at large was able to move the total of 11,140 tons of garbage and bulky items.”
Dr. Poyotte encouraged members of the community to continue to support and participate in the various activities of the council geared at reducing the spread of vector borne diseases.
“So we can fight the little insect by putting our huge energies in a very positive way to keep our environment clean; to take care of our neighbourhood and our backyard. One of the challenges we have in the council is that we can clean the roadside we can clean some public spaces but when it comes to people’s private homes and their backyards, the council has no jurisdiction there. And therefore we encourage the residence in Babonneau, not just Babonneau, throughout St. Lucia to ensure they keep their homes clean, their backyards, their yards because the council cannot come into your yard that will be trespassing. But the mosquitoes have no boundary they trespass anywhere and destroy anything that they get. So we are asking you to play your part in helping us destroy the mosquito.”
Minister for Health, Hon. Alvina Reynolds noted that sources reduction which involves eliminating the mosquito breeding sites, is the core strategy being promoted by the health ministry in reducing the mosquito population on island.
“As the Ministry, it’s not the first time that we work with the public to protect the health interest of our nation against vector borne diseases such as Chikungunya, Dengue and Leptospirosis. Though we are talking about mosquitoes now but we talk about all vectors including rats, mice, cockroaches across the board. And, as the ministry we have increased surveillance for Zika Virus which has not been confirmed here in St. Lucia. I need to repeat that, there is no Zika Confirmed in St. Lucia.”
Reynolds indicated, vector borne diseases affects not only families but the national economy, tourism industry and health system of the country.
She said only this year the tourism industry in particular was hit with several cancellation of booking to the island when Zika was confirmed in some of the neighbouring island in the Caribbean region.
“And the hotels were panicking. The were panicking because we were loosing much, much money out of the tourism sector, airlines too were concerned. So we had to move in quickly to partner with the Hotel and Tourism Association and the Tourist Board and that is to protect the economy but what’s about our families, what’s about the communities, what’s about the people of St. Lucia the population of St. Lucia that’s our focus allot.”
Minister Reynolds acknowledged the hard work of the team members of the Ministry of Health in promoting the message source reduction through the collaboration of community groups, clubs and organizations.
Other activities planed for vector awareness week include:
- The launch of the Zika Schools Poster Competition, at the Learning Resource Centre of the George Charles SecondarySchool on Wednesday March 16.
- Two Vector Awareness Motorcades on FridayMarch 18from Laborie Village Square to Dennery Village with exhibition at the Vieux-Fort Town Square. The second Vector Awareness Motorcade takes place on Saturday March 19 from Beausejour Stadium to Anse La Raye Village with stops along the route in Gros-Islet Village, Babonneau, Castries, Jachmel and Anse La Raye.
- Also on Saturday March 19,a community clean-up drive will be held in the town of Vieux-Fort (Bruce Ville, Cedar Heights la Tourney, Vieux-Fort Town, La Ressource, Black Bay, Augier, etc) sponsored by SLHTA.