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The Environmental Health Department, among its list of roles, is responsible for the control of pests and vector-borne diseases on the island. From the start of the 2023 rainy season the department has been actively monitoring and implementing measures to keep the mosquito population at bay.
To control the mosquito population, the department uses the age old method of fogging, community by community.
Senior Environmental Health Officer, Charletta Charles-Leon said in November the department held a five-day training exercise for officers focused on the chemical used in the fight against the growth of the mosquito population.
“This training exercise is geared at building capacity within the vector control unit and that is capacity in the sense of training officer to carry out testing to resistance of mosquitos to chemicals the we use in our daily activities.”
Leon says it important to ensure that the chemicals being used are effective in order to keep the mosquito population at a minimum. With the current downpours being experienced on island, the expected rise in dengue has been noted.
“And it’s something we do expect because it’s a seasonal trend, it tends to happen very frequently. So we have seen that increase in the number of vector-borne diseases. We have been trying our best to go to various communities to do some level of sensitization control. We’re checking drums, we’re checking containers. We’ve been going to tire shops and doing quite a bit of work there with business owners. We’ve been doing all our school inspections to ensure the school yards are safe and kept free from vectors.”
The training sessions were facilitated by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARHPA).
Senior Technical Officer for Vector-borne Diseases, Rajesh Ragoo says the training builds on previous sessions held within the CARPHA member states.
“This week we are here to do some additional work in insecticide resistance testing and we are partnering with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention who is providing some funding for this particular activity. We did some exercises both on the field as well as in the insectary that Saint Lucia current has within the Ministry. And we’re building capacity in vector control personnel to carry out and monitor insecticide resistance within the Aedes Aegypti mosquito population within Saint Lucia.”
According to results this far, there has been no sign of resistance to the current products being used. Nonetheless the Environmental Health Department is considering venturing into eco-friendlier products. At present, 52 persons have been diagnosed with the dengue virus on island.