North & East

USAID ZAP, health ministry move north with Zika AIRS Project

Monday, October 01, 2018

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THE Ministry of Health (MOH) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Zika AIRS Project (ZAP), are teaming up for Phase II of their mosquito control programme, which will run until September 2019.

Phase I ended in July earlier this year.

This time around, the project is bigger than the first phase as it has been expanded beyond Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine and St Thomas to include St Ann, St Mary and Portland.

Last month, USAID ZAP deployed close to 150 field technicians and supervisors in select communities. Teams of technicians and their supervisors will continue to traverse communities on foot to engage some 28,800 households for monthly interventions. This is in addition to the ministry's Enhanced Vector Control Programme that employs over 400 temporary workers.

The MOH and USAID ZAP will work with households in the selected communities in the seven parishes to provide larvacidal treatment, reduce potential breeding sites, and also collect information about the relationship between mosquitoes and human populations.

“The Health Ministry and USAID ZAP see this as a very important initiative because the question is not if there will be another outbreak of another vector borne disease, but rather when. We are working together to be prepared for the next outbreak,” said Jean Margaritis, ZAP Jamaica's chief of party.

The project, which was initially launched in 2017 by USAID in collaboration with Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, conducts field vector control campaigns by applying a bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis serovar israelensis(Bti)—a non-hazardous, non-toxic bio-larvicide to breeding sites — complemented by entomological monitoring at the sentinel sites.

In recent years, Jamaica witnessed the emergence of several mosquito borne diseases never before detected in this region — Chikungunya virus in 2014 and Zika virus in 2016. Additionally, cyclic epidemics of dengue fever are common in Jamaica. The country's economic programmes were also negatively impacted and additional burden placed on the health care system.

“The Ministry of Health is pleased to continue its partnership with the USAID ZAP as we scale up our interventions related to mosquito-borne diseases from July to December. This is in keeping with trends in recent years of expected increase in the number of cases of mosquito-borne diseases during the period. As part of our response, additionally, we continue to monitor reports of mosquito-borne diseases through our national epidemiological surveillance system,” said Dr Jacqueline Bissasor McKenzie, acting chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health.

She also noted that members of the public are encouraged to practise the necessary preventative measures by monitoring water storage containers for mosquito breeding; keeping surroundings free of debris and destroying or treating potential mosquito-breeding sites.

The USAID ZAP activities can be summed up as:

Completing insecticide resistance and susceptibility testing for both larvicides and adulticides using samples from all fourteen parishes;

Conducting entomological surveillance in five sentinel sites using five trap types to collect eggs, larvae/pupae, and adults;

Completing field testing of a vector control campaign in seven parishes, including use of a biolarvicide (Bti), targeting 28,800 households;

Developing data driven hot spot mapping for priority area interventions and,

Supporting academic research in the areas of entomology and vector control

“We must commend the many Jamaicans who participated in the project by allowing entry to their homes for the larvacidal activity to be carried out. We look forward to the next phase and an even greater level of participation.” Margaritis said.

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