Monday, May 11, 2020 – Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – “Countries around the world have combated the spread of COVID-19 by closing borders, restricting population movements nationally and integrating other social distancing measures into everyday life. This has been done to ensure that our healthcare systems are not overwhelmed in identifying and treating COVID-19 cases.
In the midst of this pandemic, we must be aware that there are other threats to public health. Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and zika have placed additional strain on the health systems in our region and have a negative impact on social and economic development. As individuals and communities, we all have a role to play in preventing the rise in mosquito-borne diseases, ”said Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, on the occasion of the 2020 Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week.
“In 2019 there was another dengue outbreak in the Caribbean. Many CARPHA member states reported an increase in the number of serious and hospitalized cases. Dengue outbreaks usually occur in cycles every few years due to a complex interplay between population, ecological and climatic factors, ”said Dr. Laura-Lee Boodram, Head of the Vector-borne Disease Division at CARPHA.
“While we haven’t seen a resurgence of Chikungunya or Zika in member states in recent years, countries in South and Central America reported chikungunya outbreaks in 2019 and early 2020, so the Caribbean must remain vigilant.”
Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week (CMAW) was proclaimed in November 2014 at CARICOM’s 17th Special Session of Heads of Government on Public Health Threats. It is an important reminder to the general public to take steps to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
CARPHA’s slogan for CMAW 2020 is: “In Times of COVID – Let’s Unite to Fight the Bite!”It is important to take preventive measures and stay healthy during this time. At the onset of the rainy season, greater rainfall is expected to spread mosquito breeding sites, build vector populations, and increase the risk of transmitting diseases such as dengue fever. To counter this surge in mosquitoes and the possible transmission of disease, greater efforts should be made to raise awareness of mosquitoes in communities and step up vector control activities.
Mr. Rajesh Ragoo, Senior Technical Officer for Vector-borne Diseases, CARPHA recommends:
“The best way to combat the bite in homes and communities is to make sure our surroundings are clean and free of materials or containers that allow water to collect. The basis of plant pots, vases, buckets and used car tires are typical breeding grounds. Water storage drums and tanks must be properly covered and checked regularly to ensure that no breeding is taking place. It is also important to minimize individual exposure to mosquito bites. “
Vulnerable groups such as infants, toddlers, older adults, and women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant need extra caution. Personal protection measures, including wearing long-sleeved clothing and using insect repellent, are highly recommended.
At the end of 2019, CARPHA signed a grant agreement with the European Union that supports regional prevention and control efforts against mosquito-borne diseases. Emphasis will be placed on strengthening Member States’ disease surveillance systems and vector control measures, expanding community engagement, public health education, and expanding partnerships and collaborations to reduce morbidity and mortality related to mosquito-borne diseases.
CARPHA has evolved Mission mosquito, an innovative information toolkit that includes animated videos, posters, and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). The toolkit has been specially designed to meet the needs of a diverse audience including health professionals and clinicians, pregnant women and children. The toolkit can be found here http://missionmosquito.carpha.org/