Local health officials are finding that access to homes in high-risk areas, is proving a challenge in fighting the escalating dengue fever situation in the island that has already caused one death.
Chief Environmental Health Officer, Tyrone Applewhaite told the media this morning that one of the issues they were finding as they visited homes was that people were no longer at home, even on weekends.
“People are still responsible for a lot of mosquito breeding on the island. We are still finding that delinquency on the island… Another issue is the fact that a lot of householders are not home anymore, so even our weekend activities that we are conducting now, we are still seeing between 20 and 24 per cent closed houses on weekends, both Saturdays and Sundays, so that is a problem.
“We were thinking that if we go out there on weekend we were likely to get in 90 to 95 per cent of the houses, but that is not what we are seeing. A lot of Barbadians are still doing things on weekends,” he said.
Providing statistics for what his officers had been doing, the chief said: “We worked in some high-risk areas recently. September 7, we were in Deighton Road area, Hart’s Gap, Paddock Road, in that general vicinity, what I can say is that the index of houses versus the number of inspections continues to be high.
“On September 7, we visited 586, were able to inspect 446 . . . 77 of those houses were positive for mosquito breeding – giving us an index of 17.3, and remember the ministry [of health] had mentioned that we want to hold the index of premises versus inspections below five.”
He said a visit to Sargeant’s Village, Christ Church, which was another high-risk area, showed 346 premises visited, inspected 244, and 65 were positive for mosquitoes, with an index of 27.6.
Silver Hill and Gall Hill, also in Christ Church, had an index of 8.7, with 325 homes visited, 223 inspected and 72 positive for mosquito breeding on Saturday, September 21.
“Yes we are using a targeted approach based on the information that we have and hoping that through education and all the other methods of technologies that we will be able to [bring the numbers down],” said Applewhaite.
He said his officers were actually volunteering to work on weekends to visit homes in an attempt to find the mosquito sites. He advised the public that if they found sites on their premises they did not know how to handle to contact his office and have one of the officers visit when they were home.
There might be some places, he added, that people were not aware mosquitoes could breed, such as in seldom-used toilets in the house, which should be flushed at least twice per week, pet water bowls, unfinished block work left expose in construction, and plant pots and vases, which should be scrubbed and water changed.
They had trained over 25,000 people in businesses, but he noted that somehow they were not seeing the transfer of that knowledge into action. He stressed that they needed the public to get involved. (LB)