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CARICOM Heads discuss Zika Print E-mail
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Friday, 19 February 2016 00:00

Belize remains free of the Zika Virus which has spread all around the Latin American Countries, and to 5 countries within the Caribbean. The Belizean authorities want to keep it that way, and the CARICOM Leaders want to curb the epidemic to make sure it does not get any worse. That was one of the topics discussed at Twenty-Seventh Inter-Sessional Meeting of The Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, which was chaired by Belize’s Prime Minister, Dean Barrow.

Coming out of that 3-day meeting, the CARICOM Heads of Government endorsed a course of action to address the spread of Zika, Chikungunya, and Dengue, which are all borne by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Since this mosquito is the vector for all of these illnesses, the plan by CARICOM is to reduce the amount of breeding sites it can have which would mean a direct decrease in new infections of these diseases. That course of action from CARICOM will include continuous public education campaigns; and actions to implement measures at the ports of entries of all the territories, and important buildings and edifices where large numbers of people gather daily, such as schools and factories. The plan here is to concentrate on their immediate environments, with activities like fogging to render possible breeding sites unsustainable for the mosquito.

CARICOM, under Prime Minister Barrow’s leadership, has also agreed to set aside the second week of May as Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week. The governments of the member states are being asked to look at a temporary reduction of import taxes on essential public health supplies as insecticide-treated bed nets, insect repellants, and insecticides, for the duration of the epidemic in the region.

There is not a clear idea as to when the Zika epidemic will start to decrease in new infection, but CARICOM is designating the next two years to deal with it. All of these resolutions came by way of recommendations made to the Heads of Government by Dr James Hospedales, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and his team.