With an improved operational structure in place coupled with continuous and efficient surveillance reports, the Ministry of Health’s Vector Control Services will be poised to further bolster its vector control work.
At least this is according to Director of Vector Control Services, Dr. Rayaud Rahman, who during an interview with this publication recently informed that the Vector Control arm of the Health Ministry is aiming towards extensively improving its operation in the coming years.
Moreover, he related that “we are working towards mainly creating a better structure, better reporting in terms of surveillance, and building our human resource capacity…once our structure is in order it will be a cyclic sort of thing going on.” In fact, he pointed out that without the necessary measures in place “you are pretty much walking around in the dark…and so once we get these things right then we are pretty much set and we know that our programme will have life,” insisted Dr Rahman.
Nevertheless, there have been many gains realised by the Vector Control Services Unit over the years, according to the Director. For instance, in the area of combating malaria, he disclosed that there have been noticeable reductions in the number of cases.
Currently, the number of malaria cases stand at just under 30,000 and, according to Dr Rahman, “we are making slow but continued progress and we hope to maintain that, not overnight but gradually.”
In addition to making full use of treated mosquito bed nets, which have proven to be one of the primary interventions to combat malaria, the Unit has also been engaged in numerous fogging exercises.
And the fogging exercises, according to Dr Rahman, are certainly not centred in the endemic regions alone. He disclosed that in Region Four, “we are actually undertaking an extensive fogging operation even though it may not always be very noticeable but we are doing fogging almost every single day.”
Efforts in this regard have reached city areas including: Lodge, Lodge Housing Scheme, Meadow Brook Gardens and Tucville. There are also plans to venture into North East La Penitence, East La Penitence, East Ruimveldt, West Ruimveldt, Alexander Village, Albouystown, Werk-en-Rust, Newburg and Wortmanville.
“We will cover all these areas before we actually wrap things up to some extent and then go to further areas that we think fogging is needed,” said Dr Rahman.
And in order to solicit the support of the public, he disclosed that the Vector Control Unit will rely heavily on strategic awareness messages through the media and otherwise, to alert the residents about the fogging activities.
The intent, according to him, is to prepare the residents by letting them know a vector control team will be visiting their areas and to let them know that they should follow the instructions that are handed out before the fogging starts.
“We have persons going around to the communities handing out information about the exercise, giving them contact numbers if they have any questions, and they (residents) should not fear the fogging…but in my experience most of the time residents are happy to have us fog their communities and we have had some really positive response from the public,” said Dr Rahman.
He however, noted that for those persons who may be skeptical about the process, “I would like to let them know that it is safe for them; it is not a problem and the insecticide that we use is also very safe and will not harm human beings…”
According to Dr Rahman, the insecticide utilised for the purpose of fogging is Fedonam, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation. According to the UK-based BASF Pest Control Solutions website, Fedona is suitable for use in and around private households, public facilities such as hospitals, schools, and even in the food and drink industry.
The local use of the insecticide sees vector control workers mixing it with water before dispensing same in the various target areas.
Fedona is said to be a fast-acting pyrethroid insecticide that quickly and effectively eliminates disease-causing insects. With its active ingredient being alpha-cypermethrin, it is regarded as one of the most effective indoor residual sprays for protecting public health in regions where malaria and other vector-borne diseases are present.
The Vector Control Unit has also been engaged in indoor residual spraying in endemic areas, a move Dr Rahman said is expected to be noticeably strengthened this year.
This recommended undertaking is characterised by the spraying of the insides of households or living structure and “we actually spray the walls with a type of insecticide that stays there and the residue will stay there for two to three months.” And the result, according to Dr Rahman, is that when an adult mosquito comes in contact with the solution either it instantly dies or at the most within a few days.
The Vector Control Director is also of the view that the fervent strides to combat vector borne diseases will continue to yield positive results even as he noted that “although we have been doing a lot in terms of vector control, I am not satisfied and I don’t think I will be satisfied until we see the number of our cases actually cut in half or further.”
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