Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Saturday (Jan. 25), joined residents of Grants Pen in St. Andrew in searching for and destroying mosquito breeding sites in their community, under the national dengue clean-up campaign.
The three-day exercise, which began on Friday (Jan. 24), is being undertaken in an effort to control the spread of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits the dengue virus.
Mr. Holness led activities along Grants Pen Road, one of two sites selected as national projects. The other area is the Rae Town fishing village in St. Andrew.
These two communities are among 36 from across the country that have been identified as being most in need of intervention to destroy mosquitoes and their breeding sites.
Activities at Grants Pen included removing bulky waste, bushing overgrown vegetation, and filling out depressed areas where mosquitoes are likely to breed.
The Prime Minister helped to treat water storage containers that had mosquito larvae. Residents were shown how to cover drums and other water storage containers and to empty or destroy containers as necessary.
Speaking at a ceremony at the New Day Primary and Junior High School ahead of the day’s exercise, Mr. Holness stressed that the Government is serious about tackling dengue, and is spending $2.6 billion on initiatives to control the spread of the vector-borne disease.
He pointed out that to date, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has expended approximately $2 billion on dengue-related activities.
“That includes vector control, acquiring new vehicles…expanding fogging right across the island, hiring more than a thousand community health workers to go around in communities to identify sites and help with treating those sites, giving out information and pamphlets, assisting communities in clean-up, and bringing back information about mosquito sites to the Ministry of Health,” he said.
He noted that the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation has spent $627 million on similar activities to date.
The Prime Minister said that during this past Christmas period, the Government spent $1.3 billion on environmental maintenance, with some of the funds going towards eliminating mosquito breeding sites.
“So we spent $189 million directly. Each Member of Parliament got $3 million to deal directly with controlling sites that could be breeding mosquitoes,” he noted.
Mr. Holness said that $60 million has been allocated from the Economic Growth and Job Creation Ministry for disbursement of an additional $500,000 for each constituency.
He said that funds will also be made available to the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) to target some specific areas.
Further, the Health and Wellness Ministry has allocated an additional $50 million that will go to the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development “to assist the councillors so that they can get on the ground.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister called on the residents of Grants Pen to become environmentally conscious, reminding them that they have a responsibility to clean up their own homes and personal space.
“It doesn’t stop where this exercise stops. Every one of you has a duty and a responsibility to ensure that your little area and your community is clean and free of anything that would aid in the breeding of mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus,” he said.
He also implored them to allow health workers to carry out their duties, which involves entering premises to identify and destroy mosquito breeding sites.
Meanwhile, Opposition Spokesman on Health, Dr. Morais Guy, who represented Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, welcomed the intervention to control the spread of dengue.
“We are here because there is a commitment on our part to join with the Government to eradicate mosquitoes because at the end of the day, it is the lives and livelihood of Jamaicans that are being affected,” he said.
The Prime Minister was joined at Grants Pen by Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton; Minister of Justice and Member of Parliament for North East St. Andrew, Hon. Delroy Chuck; and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, who is coordinating the activities.
Various agencies of the State, local authorities, and volunteers also participated.
As part of the clean-up activities, parish projects are also being undertaken led by municipal corporations.
The project sites are in Aenon Town in Clarendon; Sandy Bay in Hanover; Craig Head in Manchester; Manchioneal in Portland; Exchange in St. Ann; Junction in St. Elizabeth; Salt Spring in St James; Annotto Bay in St Mary; Golden Valley in St. Thomas; Clarks Town in Trelawny; and Grange Hill in Westmoreland.
The St. Catherine and Portmore Municipalities will carry out their clean-up activities at a later date. The exercise is being carried out under the theme: ‘Mosquitoes wanted dead, not alive!’