(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – The World Health Organization states that vector-borne diseases are associated with 17% of the infectious disease burden globally and linked to an annual death toll that exceeds 700,000.
St. Lucia will soon benefit from a data collection survey which will address the impact vector-borne diseases have on the island.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross conducted a Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) vector-borne disease study in St. Lucia and Barbados.
The focus of this study is to gather a better understanding of the factors that impact behavior and decision-making relative to the prevention of arboviral diseases with a special emphasis on Zika.
Earlier this month KAP training was organized with representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness and selected NGOs with prior experience in data collection surveys within communities.
Director of the Bureau of Health Education, Natasha Lloyd-Felix highlighted the importance of this training.
“Over the past years many of us would recall that we had a number of mosquito borne outbreaks in St. Lucia from Dengue Fever to Chikungunya and more recently Zika and off course that required us to respond with immediacy given that we wanted to protect the health of our country. Part of which is providing education to our population, looking at behaviours that required modification and supporting the process of behavior change.”
She added that the survey will be national in scope and will impact every community using representative sampling of households.
“So the data that will be collected will show us what people know, what attitudes are supportive of protecting their health as well as what attitudes prevent protection of their health and put them at risk of infection and also what their practices are.”
The data collected will facilitate better strategizing of messaging and interventions within communities. Dr. Cheryl Jones, Behavioural Scientist with CARPHA and workshop facilitator said the training has prepared the participants to successfully go into the field to collect the required data.
“So we have actually a questionnaire. Persons have been trained to understand the questionnaire but also provided us feedback on the questionnaire. Things like whether the wording of the questionnaire is relevant for the St. Lucian context. So I can ask a question and it will make a lot of sense to me as a researcher however an average person in St. Lucia who doesn’t get into the technical jargon I would use wouldn’t understand what I am trying to ask.”
Dr. Jones added that the KAP study will also focus on the main vector responsible for many of the vector borne diseases.
“The community engagement activity that we seek to do after the KAP study or as a result of the KAP study would not just look at Zika but look at all vector-borne diseases specifically looking at the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito and ways to eliminate breading sites, ways to reduce human risk of contracting diseases associated with that mosquito.”
The training workshop was funded by the European Union. The EU has a special interest in the impact Zika has had on Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2016 the World Health Organization declared Zika to be a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.” 80% of the world’s population lives in the tropics and subtropics, where the risk is greatest.