Efforts to fight the vector-borne disease chikungunya continue around the island as constituency councils meet for the second time with the Ministry of Environmental Health on the matter.
With chikungunya now in almost every community in St. Lucia, the Ministry of Health has said addressing the disease is high priority.
The meeting between the councils and environmental health personnel took place on June 26.
Anse La Raye Constituency Office Supervisor Sandra Emmanuel said her community has a few cases of the disease and the council is currently engaged in efforts to curtail the breeding of mosquitoes.
Emmanuel said from a council standpoint, parts of Anse La Raye which are considered to be potential breeding grounds are being cleaned. According to her, there have always been mosquitoes in the community, but with chikungunya now present, special effort is being made to try to eradicate their breeding.
“Council members have already been sensitised on the chikungunya virus and have gotten some vaccines,” she added.
“Some of our drains do have mosquitoes and we have already tried our best along with the Ministry of Health to take care of the situation. We have a good link up with them so… that we have a healthier community where our people would not get sick,” she said.
Meanwhile, Arlene Regis, chairperson of the Dennery South Constituency Council, said his organisation is quite concerned about the disease, as are all St Lucians.
He lamented the impact the disease is having on the country.
“We’re all losing. The private sector is losing because you have people staying home because they will not be able to go to work. The farmers are losing, everybody is losing. The school kids are suffering…” he said.
He added, “Something we have realised is that this is a major concern – something that we have to do something about. So there is no getting away from it. There is no household that is spared. Whether you Labour or UWP or what have you. Mosquitoes don’t choose political colours.”
Among measures being undertaken by the Dennery South Constituency Council is an “overarching awareness campaign” for the constituency which is based on entertainment. A clean-up drive and walk-through, which will involve all community groups, including churches, is also being planned. That activity is expected to provide a better idea of “trouble spots” in Dennery South.
This will include “not just places where we have water, but where you have people who are resistant to even doing something about it.”
The chairman informed that a major goal of the council is to eradicate both the larvae and the adult mosquitoes. In that regard, the council is seeking its own fogging machine. Local community groups will be called on to assist in that endeavour.
Regis said the council will be working with the Ministry of Health in order to conduct fogging in an environmentally-friendly manner. The chairman is hopeful that with a few fundraising activities the equipment and chemicals can be purchased.
Meanwhile, Environmental Health Officer Charletta Charles, in giving a brief overview of the progress of the recent meetings, said that while councils appear enthusiastic, they face many challenges.
“There is a challenge of human behaviour – getting our public and our community members to change their behaviour and start covering drums, buckets and containers… but I think that we need to be persistent in our fight if we are to see results,” she said.
She said the ministry will continue its house-to-house monitoring, treatment for larvae sightings , fogging and other preventative methods.