By Benjamin Flowers
The vector control Unit of the Ministry of health received 11 vehicles this week to increase the units’ operational capabilities in urban and rural communities.
The vehicles, Toyota Hilux 4×4 pickup trucks, were handed over at the Belize Diesel and Equipment Company Limited’s compound in Belmopan on Wednesday.
They come as a part of a contribution agreement with the European Union, at a value of $720,000.
The project also has an additional $2,280,345 allocated for training ministry personnel to manage and maintain the vehicles.
Chief Operator of the Vector Control Unit, Kim Bautista, explained that the vehicles will also help to carry out timely interventions, including the control of mosquitoes which directly spread vector control diseases such as Dengue, Malaria, and the rapidly-spreading Chikungunya.
On site for the handing over of the vehicles was Minister of Health Hon. Pablo Marin; Dr. Peter Allen, chief executive officer in the ministry; and PAHO representative Dr. Gerardo De Cosio.
The European Union and the Pan American Health Organization signed “The Strengthening of the Prevention and Control of Dengue and Malaria in Belize” agreement in December 2013 with the Ministry of Health being the implementing partner.
The agreement was signed before the regional outbreak of Chikungunya which has affected over 135,000 people and causing 14 deaths throughout the Caribbean.
Dr. Michael Pitts, the director of health services, told The Reporter that while the program is timely because they will help Belize minimize the impact of the Chikungunya outbreak, because the vector is transmitted by the same mosquito that spreads dengue, the Aedes Aegypti.