News — October 14, 2013

Clean up Barbados: Take Action

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An increase of approximately 300 per cent. That statistic represents the drastic climb in the number of dengue cases in Barbados for the year so far (511), when compared to last year (169). This alarming report has been confirmed by the Ministry of Health in a release sent to the press, which is aimed at alerting the public to the dangers of the disease and how they can help to eradicate the culprit in this scenario ??? the dreaded Aedes aegypti mosquito. It was also revealed that despite this high number of cases, there has only been one confirmed death to dengue fever earlier this year. Barbadians therefore can count themselves lucky. Still, for most individuals who succumb to the effects of dengue fever, ???lucky??? would not be the term used to describe their experience. Symptoms of dengue fever include bleeding, rash, abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, lethargy, restlessness, clammy skin, or loss of consciousness. In children effects can be particularly devastating. Some patients with dengue fever go on to develop dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), a severe and sometimes fatal form of the disease. Though the threat of dengue is a serious concern, it is one that can be minimised if individuals make a concerted effort to eliminate factors that encourage the spread of the illness. As such, The Barbados Advocate calls on all persons resident in this country to help eradicate mosquito breeding grounds and take the necessary precautions to avoid the deadly infection. Already the Ministry of Health, through its fogging programme, is attacking the problem by targeting the breeding grounds in communities across the island. The National Conservation Commission and the Sanitation Services Authority are also assisting by clearing overgrown brush and garbage from neighbourhoods consistently, thereby reducing the risk of water collecting in areas where the mosquito may attempt to multiply. National groups like the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, The Future Centre Trust and the Junior Chamber International (Barbados), which spearhead clean-up drives like the Clean Up Barbados initiative this past weekend, must also be commended for their role in reducing the risk of dengue in Barbados and potentially saving lives. Yet, homeowners and residents can add to this effort by keeping their environs clean and eliminating breeding grounds for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which, according to the Ministry, can be anywhere that water settles. The public is also urged to check their premises on a weekly basis, including roof guttering, plant pots, disposed tyres, garbage cans, discarded appliances and plastic containers for water collection, as well as septic tanks, underground and above ground water storage systems. This is especially important during the current rainy season. It is against the law for a person to be found breeding mosquitoes. To this end, there have been frequent residential visits by health inspectors this past month. We support any means necessary to bring about a necessary behaviour change amongst Barbadians. However, we note that the Ministry of Health has seen some success with its public information notices, which are currently being aired on CBC TV8. In light of this, a greater concentration of information could be provided through an increased media campaign, including radio and the press. Barbadians need to wake up and pay attention. Dengue is deadly.
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