Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merlin Frederick has responded to concerns raised by residents regarding the pile up of tires at the Deglos landfill, which is reportedly causing swarms of mosquitoes to breed, stating that the matter is being looked into.
Dr. Frederick’s response comes at a time when the Ministry of Health has ongoing educational campaigns, calling on residents island-wide to rid their environments of items that store water and could assist with breeding mosquitoes, responsible for the spread of chikungunya.
The chief medical officer told St Lucia News Online (SNO), “The Ministry of Health acknowledges the concern and we are working with the St. Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority (SLSWMA) to resolve the issue in the shortest possible time.”
She nevertheless commended the general public for their efforts to reduce the habitats of the aedes aegypti mosquito. Dr. Frederick also reminded that the mosquito is a vector which breeds in water, and advised persons to continue to practice measures of prevention.
“Given the corresponding increases in the mosquito population with the onset of the rainy season, coordinated strategies to contain the spread of attendant diseases is critical,” she added.
In 2012, government had invested in a commercial tire shredder that is located at the Deglos landfill, but it never became operational. According to reports, in order for the machine to start functioning, it would require a complete upgrade of the landfill’s electrical system, which can cost the SLSWMA approximately $300,000.
However, a plan was devised by government to attract neighbouring islands to get rid of their old tires, which will create more revenue for the authority. However, it is unclear when the machine will become functional, much less to have the plan put into effect.
The Ministry of Health has been particularly advising citizens to get rid of old tires, as it may be one of the reasons that could lead to breathing mosquitoes. However, the thousands of tires at the Deglos landfill are said to be one of the largest breathing grounds for mosquitoes.