Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis, 19th May 2016. Zika, the latest mosquito borne disease, has been reported in more than 30 countries of the Americas. This disease, along with Dengue and Chikungunya continues to threaten the health, tourism, social and economic development of the Region. According to Dr. Joy St. John, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), “we have been waging a losing battle and so the battle strategy needs to change if we are to win the war.”
Dr. St. John was speaking at the opening of the Workshop to Develop a Regional Network on Research and Control of Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases in the Caribbean. This workshop, the second of two, will review currently available knowledge and experience of national authorities, agencies and academic institutions in the areas of control and research on vector control and Integrated Vector Management (IVM). Participants will also seek to identify operational research issues potentially useful for improving vector control.
In her opening remarks, Dr. St John said “The workshop is about how we manage and approach the mosquito. Vector control is the be all and end all.” She added “research into current systems, to discover knowledge gaps and what will lead to better prevention of illness, is part of what we hope will be outcomes of this workshop.”
The Workshop is the product of a consortium of partners of which CARPHA is the lead institution. The other partners include the Instituto de Medicina Tropical “Pedro Kouri” (IPK), Cuba, Pasteur Institute of Guadeloupe, and Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts and Nevis. The meeting ran from the 17th to 20th May, 2016 at the Marriott Hotel, St. Kitts and included participants from the Dutch, English, French and Spanish-speaking countries. The Workshop was funded by the Special Programme for Research and Training of UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO),
Since the Zika outbreak, CARPHA has provided support to Member States. Recent initiatives include:
- Strengthening of its laboratory capacity for the testing of Zika specimens to support Member States;
- Monitoring regional and global developments and providing updates for Ministries of Health and other key stakeholders;
- Coordinating meetings of Caribbean National Epidemiologists, Laboratory Directors, and Chief Medical Officers;
- Hosting of webinars with hotel owners in collaboration with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) on vector control
- The development of Zap-a-‘quito educational mobile app game
The Agency has also conducted a regional laboratory training workshop for the Molecular Diagnostic Detection and Surveillance of Arboviruses in collaboration with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which saw training of 6 countries including Barbados, in the use of the new Trioplex kit from CDC.