Vector control training for Environmental Health Department

GIS: Government, PAHO Collaborate in the Fight Against Mosquito-Borne Diseases.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness recently held a three-day training workshop for Vector Control Officers on the use, maintenance and repair of thermal foggers. The workshop was completed on Dec. 1.

The training was undertaken by Renard Xaviere from Power Farms in Barbados, and was aimed at capacity-building within the Department of Health to improve its response to controlling the mosquito population on island.

“This workshop is another phase of vector control preparations,” said Chief Environmental Health Officer, Wenn Gabriel. “Vector borne diseases are a serious threat to us in Saint Lucia as well as the entire Caribbean. In the past five years or so we have had three major outbreaks of vector borne diseases and therefore we believe we need to prepare. We have been doing so by training our staff.

“We’ve had training with respect to the entomological aspects of vector control, we have also done some training in testing for resistance as it pertains to some of the pesticides that we use in vector control, and we will train our vector control staff on the safe handling of equipment used in mosquito control.”

Foggers are a one of the critical machines used within community based programs to reduce, control and prevent the spread of mosquito borne diseases.

CEO of Power Farms in Barbados, Renard Xaviere, said while there may be concerns, that foggers may not be environmentally friendly, he believes that the fogging process is very lucrative and harmless [to humans] in the fight against mosquitoes.

“Fogging remains the most cost-effective way to disperse pesticides into the environment where the mosquito is very prevalent,” Mr Xaviere said. “I think it will be here for a long time. Scientists are working on better products that can last longer, but it [fogging] is pretty safe. I know there are some detractors, but it really is the most cost effective and safest way to really combat this particular pest.”

At the end of the training, the environmental department expects a reduction in down time of machinery, improvement in fogging techniques, and an overall strengthening of the department’s response to mosquito borne disease outbreaks.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) continues to provide support to the Department of Environmental Health in the fight against mosquito borne diseases.