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Saturday, April 19, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Tough anti-dengue action plan in Couva
Litter wardens and public health officers in Couva intend to take an aggressive approach to stamp out the deadly aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads the dengue virus. There were 93 reported dengue cases and one fatality linked to the virus last month in Chaguanas. Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial has given public health officers and litter wardens “permission to ‘buff up’ residents to keep their homes and surroundings clean.”
Ramdial, who is also the junior Minister of the Environment and Water Resources, was speaking at a function at Limehead Road Junction, Chase Village, on Tuesday where the Couva, Tabaquite, Talparo Regional Corporation (CTTRC) launched its anti-dengue action plan. The corporation’s chairman Henry Awong, called on public health officers and litter wardens to discharge their responsibility to keep the region clean by serving clean-up notices or taking legal action against the lawbreakers.
Ramdial, who said she had contracted dengue haemorrhagic fever several years ago, said the only way to stamp out the scourge of dengue and reduce or eliminate its breeding sources, was by taking a proactive approach through a partnership between citizens and the authorities. She said while the Government and its agencies were doing their part to institute legislation and proper methods of prevention and garbage collection, every citizen had a duty to care for and protect their environment.
Pointing to the surroundings, littered with garbage and plastic bottles, Ramdial said it was easy for people to cultivate bad habits and the best mechanism to deal with that factor was education. She said because of the density of the population in Couva, “most of the reported cases over the past couple of years emanated from Couva North and Couva South. We had a fatality not very far from here.”
Awong said he was startled by the statistics on the reported dengue cases in the region during the January Public Health Committee meeting. “There were 76 reported cases in November and 17 in December 2013, and as you heard the minister say, one fatality not far from here.” Although not all the reported cases were confirmed, Awong said, nevertheless, “it is enough to allow us to be concerned.
“As the agency responsible for public health, we must confront the challenges, as we carry out our mandate by ensuring the burgesses are protected from those who chose to breach the public health laws. Our objective is to reduce the figure being reported.”
He declared zero tolerance on lawbreakers. Among the challenges facing the region, Awong identified the ability to find owners of overgrown, abandoned lots and derelict vehicles, which provide breeding grounds for the dengue-carrying mosquito, littering, and its land mass and population density. “We are the second largest region in the country, as it relates to population and land mass,” he said, pointing out the educational approach the corporation will undertake to deal with the public health problems.
Awong said he would be seeking approval from the Ministry of Education for its officers to go into schools to educate the children. “We want them to know from small not to breach the Public Health Act so they can educate their parents,” he added. Awong urged the public officers to serve the necessary clean-up orders to those in breach of the law and follow up with court action for non-compliance. Public Health Officer Franklyn Gray said the programme was developed last year, in conjunction with a number of stakeholders.
He said the officers would distribute flyers, undertake health education, advise the public on the dangers of dengue and yellow fever and most importantly, attempt to get them on board with the authorities to reduce the spread of dengue by reducing breeding sources.
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