Caribbean health ministers agree to strengthen actions to prevent vector-borne diseases

Dr Carissa Itienne and Bahamas Health Minister Duane Ermest Lascelles Sands
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WASHINGTON (Caribbean Media Corporation) – Caribbean health ministers have joined their counterparts from the Americas in agreeing to implement a series of actions over the next five years to more effectively control the vectors that transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika and Chagas disease.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), which organised the meeting here on Monday, said that the aim of the plan is to prevent communicable diseases of this type and reduce their spread.

The Plan of Action on Entomology and Vector Control – presented at PAHO’s 56th Directing Council, which is meeting– focuses on prevention, surveillance and integrated control of the vectors that transmit arboviruses, malaria and certain neglected infectious diseases, “through effective, sustainable, low-cost, evidence-based interventions”.

PAHO Dominican-born director, Dr. Carissa F. Etienne said the populations most affected by vector-borne diseases are those living in conditions of vulnerability and far from health services.

“It is these populations that most frequently suffer health consequences and harm due to lack of sanitary and vector control measures.

“These are the populations where PAHO concentrates its efforts and where it is necessary for governments and communities to take an active role in vector prevention and control, so that, together, we can reduce the burden of these infectious diseases,” she added.

Delegates who participated in PAHO’s 56th Direct Council

 

PAHO said infectious diseases have a significant impact on public health in the Region of the Americas and throughout the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that vector-borne diseases, such as dengue, yellow fever, malaria, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and plague account for over 17 per cent of infectious diseases globally, causing more than 700,000 deaths per year.

PAHO said since 2010, several major outbreaks of dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika virus, as well as local outbreaks of malaria, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, leptospirosis, and plague, have taken lives and strained the region’s health systems.

PAHO said the Plan of Action on Entomology and Vector Control includes five lines of action for the countries, including: Strengthening multisector work in various programs and sectors, in order to increase collaborative vector prevention and control efforts; and engaging and mobilizing local governments and communities, including health services.

The plan of action also includes enhancing entomological surveillance and vector control monitoring and evaluation, including insecticide resistance monitoring and management; evaluating and incorporating proven or innovative approaches to vector control, and scaling them up when possible; and providing ongoing training, not only to experts, but also public health workers, on entomology and vector control.

PAHO said people’s exposure to vectors and the diseases they transmit occurs at the local level, and is often associated with factors including age group, sex, ethnicity, and profession or occupation, with inequality also playing a role.

“The plan of action emphasizes the need for national health and vector control authorities to plan and partner with local community organizations in order to work more effectively with the affected populations,” PAHO said.

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