SKNIS Photo: Minister of Health, Honourable Eugene Hamilton

Press Release

Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 18, 2016 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis continues to maintain vigilance against all vectors including the aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads the zika virus which is presently confirmed to be in several Caribbean islands.

Vectors are all disease-carrying organisms including the aedes aegypti mosquito and mice.

During opening remarks of the Workshop to Develop a Regional Network on Research and Control of Emerging Vector-Bourne Diseases in the Caribbean, being held in St. Kitts from May 17 – 20, Minister of Health, Honourable Eugene Hamilton said that “since the 1960s successive governments have invested meaningfully in improving the health of humans, animals and the environment.”  He revealed that mortality due to communicable diseases is four percent which is similar to that of the wealthiest nations of the world; while death due to a vector-bourne disease is very rare to non-existent.

“Undoubtedly, the major vector issue is the endemic aedes aegyti mosquito and the evidence lies in dengue fever outbreaks occurring approximately every four years and the outbreak of chikungunya in 2014,” Minster Hamilton said.  “So what about zika?  I am advised that we have no confirmed cases of zika.  We must therefore embrace the mission of vector prevention and control.”

The Minister of Health emphasized that while the government is willing to work with stakeholders, the overall responsibility of vector control still falls to the government, particularly where economic-earning industries such as tourism could be affected.  “Addressing these health and non-health determinants or vectors is the fundamental duty of governments,” Minister Hamilton said, emphasizing that no other entity has such a combined coordination of a country’s resources.

As to the long-term strategy, it was revealed that certain plans were in place.

“The vision is maximized networking to yield the strongest possible integrated vector management,” Minister Hamilton said.  “St. Kitts and Nevis’s strategic goal is to combine and inform robust inspection and enforcement with regular and effective research, surveillance and performance assessment.  My government will spare no effort to strengthen integrated vector management.  In doing so, we will need technical support from CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency), PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation), Ross University and other partners.”

Minister Hamilton challenged Ross University to expand its laboratory in order to service the vector-control testing-requirements of several Caribbean countries.