Get serious about dengue problem
THAT BARBADOS HAS a serious health challenge on its hand cannot be denied, downplayed or dismissed. We speak of a spike in the incidence of dengue fever that must be a cause of concern for all of us on the island and indeed visitors to our shores.
Our fears are made all the more worrisome by the news that there has been one confirmed death so far this year from the mosquito-borne illness.
Part of the problem we now face with an upsurge in the mosquito problem has to do with the persistent showers recorded within recent months. The entire country is lush green and both the food crop and livestock farmers have nothing to complain about as it relates to water for their produce and animals.
The pumping stations and reservoirs across the country should hardly encounter any issues related to low water levels. The rains expected during the Atlantic hurricane season have been good, and welcomed in most instances.
While the benefits of the rain are evident, so too are the threats it has created; particularly given the worsening of the mosquito problem, in many ways exacerbated by our actions of leaving various types of containers lying around which provide ideal breeding and harbouring grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito that causes dengue.
We need to get Barbados clean and continuously kept in pristine condition. This is not an issue for the state; neither is it for our neighbour and not us, but calls for the collective involvement of the entire community.
The belief that some Government agency will have to find all the solutions simply will not work, particularly in the prevailing tight economic circumstances. The Government, for its part, must effect the law against those who indiscriminately litter and keep their surroundings in such a state as to create a health hazard.
This is also an opportunity to expand that spirit of volunteerism and an ideal venture for the service clubs, churches, constituency councils and other non-governmental organizations to work towards getting Barbados clean before Christmas 2013.
It also means individual action in keeping around our homes, the vacant lots and all areas clean, disposing of those receptacles that can retain water.
We have had very good vector control when compared with the rest of the region and long understood that the most effective way to fight the problem is to physically remove or reduce the availability of water containers or other places ideal as habitats for larvae.
We have successfully followed this practice over the years here and, for the most part, it has worked. Worldwide, the view is that the best option to control dengue is to have a vaccine. But that still seems a distant future as scientists continue their trials, which offer interesting signals, but no definitive answers to date.
This leaves us with one option. We must eliminate the mosquito and its lavae at the source.