(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – The Ministry of Health continues it’s public education drive with key groups on leptospirosis. Outreach programmes are being conducted throughout the island with the aim of eliminating new cases of leptospirosis and reducing the rodent population.
Over the past few weeks a team from the Ministry of Health was deployed in the Castries basin, to identify health gaps and educate market vendors on measures which can be practiced to curb the spread of leptospirosis. Health Educator, Nadiege Smith-Lambert explains.
“What we’re doing is giving them information, listening to some of their concerns. Given the environment they work in we are trying to see how they can use the resources that they have, so for instance they don’t have running water however the can walk with bottles which can be used to wash their hands properly. We are also speaking to them about proper hygiene practices.
Some of our coconut vendors specifically were able to identify some of the problems they face as coconut vendors and we were also able to share with them what they can do to be able to sell people good products to be able to bottle their coconut water properly and also when it comes it the jelly how exactly they sell the jelly to their customers in a proper way. I found this exercise to be very effective. The food vendors and the produce vendors participated very well, they asked questions, there were a lot of things that they did not know, so we spoke about things like leptospirosis and a lot of people did not know leptospirosis is not only transmitted by rats but there are other animals which carry the bacteria”.
Special emphasis has been placed on coconut vending as there are concerns that leptospirosis may be transmitted when persons drink directly from contaminated nuts. Health officials are encouraging persons to drink from a straw, wash the coconut, or drink packaged coconut water. One coconut vendor said limited resources and time constraints are major concerns.
““Normally we try to wash them on mornings but if the coconuts come straight from the farm it’s hard for you to wash it at that time but when come from our homes every morning we ensure we wash it. So the other thing is, we need more access to water in the market so whilst selling we can do all what we have to do so the customers can see everything that is going on”.
Another market vendor said, whilst growing up, they were not aware of leptospirosis’ existence, however she found that the information disseminated by the ministry’s team was very insightful and complimented them for this initiative.
““I applaud the Ministry of Health for the way they are informing people concerning the disease.”
Thus far the Ministry has confirmed 26 cases and 4 deaths due to leptospirosis.