#Kingston, October 9, 2019 – Jamaica – Additional financing of $350 million is to be provided for the Enhanced Vector Control Programme to increase public relations activities and to coordinate the capacity for strengthened national response.
“The National Health Fund is providing additional financing… . This is to support the dengue outbreak response that is projected to run until December 2019,” Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said during a statement to the House of Representatives on October 8.
The funds are to be allocated to temporary worker employment, $189.5 million; Source reduction (bulky waste removal), $120 million; public education campaign, $30 million; and vector control intervention (including drum covers), $10 million.
Dr. Tufton said Jamaica is currently experiencing an outbreak of dengue fever. He informed that as at September 30, 2019, the number of suspected, probable and confirmed cases is 5,909. He noted that of the cases notified, the National Surveillance Unit in collaboration with the National Public Health Laboratory did prioritising for confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing at the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
“Cases of severe dengue and dengue-related deaths were given high priority. Of the 243 cases tested by PCR, 82 tested PCR positive for dengue; 76 of those were identified as DENV Type three, two were DENV Type 2 and four cases had low viral titres and the dengue type was not identified,” Dr. Tufton said.
The dengue virus has four different strains, DENV 1-4, and the source is the bite of an Aedes aegypti mosquito
The Minister noted that for the period January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, there were 135 suspected and confirmed dengue-related deaths, 47 cases in 2018 and 88 cases in 2019. Ten of these cases for 2019 occurred in September.
Dr. Tufton told the Lower House that the Ministry continues to be vigilant in its efforts to keep the public safe from vector-borne diseases, including dengue. He added that annually, October to January is the period where there is increased arbovirus activity.
“Since January 2019, the Ministry has intensified its dengue prevention and control activities, with a further intensification in July 2019 and again in September 2019. The Ministry has activated its National Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate and report on the response activities related to the increasing numbers of dengue cases and since September 2019, activities have increased,” Dr. Tufton said.
“The response activities involve strengthening surveillance case management and vector-control management. Case management now reflects the updated clinical guidelines. The vector-control management strategy includes strengthening human resource capacity and supporting efforts to decrease the entomological indices for the Aedes aegypti mosquito islandwide,” he added.
Dr. Tufton said vector-control activities have intensified since July 2019, through increased numbers of community-based vector-control workers, with the engagement of 980 temporary workers, in addition to permanent staff; additional support to local governance systems for multisectoral activities and interventions; and intensified fogging activities in high risk communities and high risk institutions such as schools.
He further noted that since January 3, 2019, the Ministry’s Public Relations Unit has implemented a robust public education campaign, and additional activities continued and intensified in September 2019 with greater emphasis on early warning signs for severe dengue.
The Minister said there is continued re-sensitisation of clinical staff on dengue cases, both private- and public-sector physicians.
In addition, there is continued extended opening hours at selected health centres to facilitate increased access by patients requiring medical care across the island, with ongoing discussions to determine the need for additional capacity.
There is also ongoing collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and the National Solid Waste Management Authority to clear high-risk communities of accumulation of solid waste and the National Works Agency to clear drains in high-risk communities.
Contact: Latonya Linton