By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
The Ministry of Health, in its latest vector control program report, cited citizen engagement as a major challenge in combating the spread of vector borne diseases.
The Report, which details the statistics and interventions in reducing Dengue fever, Malaria, and Chikungunya, showed that while strides have been made in decreasing cases, there are still high incidents of people leaving items in their yards, such as drums, tires and bottles. These serve as breeding sites for mosquitoes.
“We need a behaviour change”, said Kim Bautista, chief operator of the VCP. “What the vector control unit does is only about 20 percent of what is needed to prevent dengue.”
According to the report, there has been a 16 percent reduction of dengue cases, with Belize City showing the highest reduction rate (46 percent). There have only been nine cases of malaria for this year, primarily in southern Belize, and only two positive cases of Chikungunya, which were not locally contracted.
The Vector Control Unit has a total of eight offices countrywide, manned by 61 full-time staff, apart from seasonal workers hired to conduct spraying activities.
The unit, through assistance from the European Union, now has 18 Ultra Low Volume (ULV) spraying machines, 25 thermal foggers and other spraying equipment in six districts (apart from those in storage) and 15 vehicle at its disposal.
Through that same assistance, it embarked on a project earlier this year to conduct the indoor residual spraying, fogging of houses in hotspots, and treatment of mosquito breeding sites in six districts. The project was done at a cost of $106,000. Some districts have been completed, while others are ongoing.