The Ministry of Health and Wellness has taking a proactive approach in combating mosquito borne infections at the start of the new academic year, by working in partnership with the Ministry of Education. With Zika being a primary concern for the health ministry, meetings have been held with officials of the Ministry of Education as well as school administrators to provide recommendations to reduce the impact of vector-borne diseases on children.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George advised parents to assist the Ministry’s effort to reduce the impact of Zika virus in the school environment.
“ There are quite a few measures that parents can take to reduce the impact on their children. For example the younger children, preschoolers, parents can ensure that they come to school with leggings to protect their skin and also to the use of insect repellent to reduce the chance of mosquito bites as well. We are also advising parents to partner with school administrators in terms of the environmental impacts at their school. Work as a team with your different school officials to reduce the impact as well.”
Meantime, the Environmental Health Department has conducted workshops with caretakers, cleaners and maintenance staff in its quest to reduce the mosquito population throughout the island.
Environmental Health Officer, Charlotte Charles says since many schools serve as the nucleus in most communities, it is necessary to ensure the surroundings are properly maintained and that the ancillary staff are knowledgeable about mosquito breeding.
“ A lot of our schools are in residential areas, so in as much as we might not have mosquitoes breeding on the school compound, it might be the house next door or the house two doors down. We have to bear in mind that the mosquito has a flight range of 400 meters. So as much as we may be breeding mosquitoes in and around our homes, it’s not going to stay in your house only. It’s not like a dog you have a rope around its neck. It’s not going to stay in your yard, it’s going to go around and these are the things we need to be mindful of. So when we do our treatment exercises or our elimination exercises, we need to remember that we are not doing it just for our good but we’re doing it for the good of our community as well.”
The Ministry of Health urges parents to keep children who show signs and symptoms of the Zika virus at home during the symptomatic phase of the disease.