Efforts to strengthen surveillance of vector borne diseases to ensure a safer Saint Lucia are in progress as the Division of Environmental Health recently opened its first ever mosquito insectary at the Union Orchid Garden, the Ministry of Health has announced.
Minister for Health and Wellness Mary Isaac was quoted in a Ministry release as saying that the establishment of the mosquito insectary demonstrates the commitment of the Department of Health and Wellness to reducing mosquito breeding and vector borne diseases.
“With the establishment of this insectary in a box, the Department of Health is hoping to strengthen its mosquito surveillance system through the establishment of a database of the mosquito species on island and mapping out their location using geographic information systems,” Isaac stated.
“This will enable the department to do the following: targets its interventions at the right locations in order to reduce mosquito borne diseases; access risk of vector borne disease outbreak, perform routine test for insecticide resistance of both adult mosquitoes and larvae,” the Minister disclosed.
The mosquito insectary was made possible through the financial support of the Pan American Health Organisation PAHO.
PAHO Country Programme Specialist for Saint Lucia Tessa Stroude says her organization remains committed to working with the Department of Health and Wellness to protect Saint Lucians from vector borne diseases.
“PAHO has provided support for Saint Lucia over the years in strengthening the capacity of vector control programmes through the provision of training. This insectary in a box is a crucial part of the infrastructure necessary to achieve the objective. With further strengthening of Saint Lucia’s capacity to undertake surveillance, prevention and control activities towards preventing outbreaks of vector borne diseases in the future,” Stroude said.
Chief Environmental Health Officer Parker Ragnanan says the mosquito insectary is an effective tool as it will assist in the development of strategies in vector control management.
“Hence, the reason why a lab is so important to us because now we would be able to collect mosquitoes’ eggs throughout the length and breadth of Saint Lucia, be able to analyze these eggs and determine specifically what species of mosquitoes that we have in our country. This is critical because in order for us to respond to mosquito borne disease, we need to understand what mosquito species that are transmitting the disease,” Ragnanan explained.
The new mosquito insectary will allow officers within the Vector Control Unit to collect data on the species of mosquitos and also determine the best insecticides for killing the mosquitoes, according to the Ministry of Health and Wellness.