“Although Dengue has been in the Region for years, with the introduction of Chikungunya in 2013, and now Zika, vector-borne diseases (VBDs) have become very prominent, taking centre stage,” stated Dr Karen Polson-Edwards, Acting Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
Dr Polson-Edwards was speaking at the opening of the first meeting of the Surveillance and Vector Control Working Groups of the Caribbean Vector-Borne Diseases Network (CariVecNet). The Agency, as coordinator of the Network, hosted 20 experts in vector control and vector-borne disease surveillance from ten CARPHA Member States. Personnel from Institut Pasteur, Guadeloupe; Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts and Nevis and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) were also in attendance. From 13 – 14 March, delegates discussed the formation and operations of the Network and drafted two-year work plans for both working groups.
The Network will act as an avenue for exchange of surveillance information on the circulating vector borne diseases, and collaboration on vector control and research topics such as insecticide resistance and community-based intervention. Additionally, the Network will work on the standardisation of operating procedures and training for the diagnosis, surveillance, prevention and control of vector-borne diseases in the Caribbean, with the expected long-term outcome being better prevention and control of VBDs.
Dr. Polson-Edwards said: “The spread of Zika in the Region has highlighted the need for a more unified approach in the fight against these diseases. The purpose of the network is to support the Caribbean’s response to VBDs and the growing challenge they pose to health, social and economic systems.”
The meeting was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Global Health Security Cooperative Agreement.