General

Chik-V outbreak on Belmopan outskirts! But health authorities say “We’re ready!”

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Health assured Belizeans this week that its people are prepared to mitigate and control Chikungunya, a virus now present in the country.

Information Officer for the ministry, Claudette Dakers-Norales, told The Reporter on Tuesday that the ministry had made preparations well in advance of the first reported case.

“We’ve been releasing information, educating the public and taking aggressive vector control action to eradicate breeding sites,” Norales explained.

Since the start of the Chikungunya outbreak in the region last December the Ministry of Health has held numerous public briefings, and collaborated with the Belize Telecommunications Limited to have text bulletins sent out to citizens on their cell phones..

The ministry has also ugraded its vector control system through funding from the Global Fund, the Amazon Malaria Initiative and the European Union. These organizations have provided some $2.2 million to upgrade vector control measures.

These upgrades included hiring additional staff and purchasing additional vehicles and equipment.

The Ministry of Health confirmed its first case of CHIKV last week, coming out of the Las Flores area of Belmopan. There are also three more suspected cases awaiting confirmation from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States.

Regional and international bodies such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Pan American Health Organization have within the past three months held several meetings to discuss the most effective ways to control the CHIKV virus.

With CHIKV cases totalling more than 600,000 and the total number of deaths at 32, countries all over the region have been struggling to protect their population from the outbreak.

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