With the number of Zika cases on the rise, Minister of Health John Boyce is concerned about the negative impact of the mosquito borne virus on this country’s economy.
Addressing a Zika symposium here this morning, he pointed out that as a result of the 2014 outbreak of Chikungunya disease, there was a dramatic rise in sickness claims, which, according to Director of National Insurance Ian Carrington, had forced the NIS to increase its claims budget.
Without going into specifics, the health official warned that the NIS again faces a possible financial drain on account of the Zika virus, which first surfaced in January this year.
Boyce reported that as of March 3 this year, the number of confirmed cases of Zika had risen from seven to nine, while 277 suspected cases had been reported to the Ministry of Health.
Speaking on the theme, One Environment, One Health-Informing the Caribbean’s Response to Zika, the Minister of Health also acknowledged that worldwide, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that more than a million people die from mosquito borne diseases every year and that mosquitoes cause more human suffering than any other organism.
In light of the situation, Boyce said the goal of his Ministry was to encourage home owners to destroy vectors in and around their premises, while warning that there would be “firm, but fair” application of the Health Services Act 1969 in the prosecution of persons found breeding mosquitoes.
As part of Government’s drive to eradicate the Zika-bearing Aedes Aegypti mosquito, personnel from the Environmental Health Department would also be aiming to inspect all local premises at least twice every three months while special attention is paid to identifying and destroying mosquito breeding sites on tourism properties.
“This sector has been given priority because it is of vital importance to the economy and any crippling impact on tourism can undermine economic growth,” Boyce explained, pointing out that this partnership approach was also used in 2014 during the Chikungunya outbreak.