Charlestown-Nevis—A very significant press conference was held at the conference room of the Disaster Preparedness office at Long Point, on Wednesday 23rd March.
The press conference signalled the official launch of the Zika virus/ mosquito prevention and control campaign, coordinated by the Health Promotion Unit on Nevis.
Welcome and opening remarks were delivered by Mrs. Nicole Slack-Liburd, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Judy Nisbett, Medical Officer of Health in Nevis, then elaborated on the purpose, aim and objectives of the campaign.
She noted that the Aedes aegypti mosquito which is responsible for the spread of the Zika virus, is prevalent on the island but noted that the campaign was not just geared at eliminating or reducing the population of that specific mosquito, but geared towards the elimination/ reduction of ALL mosquitoes on the island, as all are capable of transmitting specific diseases.
She noted that collaboration is key for the success of the campaign.
Dr. Patrick Martin, Chief Medical Officer in the federation of St.Kitts and Nevis spoke to the epidemiology and clinical aspects of the Zika virus.
He again reiterated an earlier statement that there are NO confirmed cases in the federation at this time. He however noted that with persons moving in and out of the islands, the possibility is great and thus care and attention must be paid to prevention.
He also revealed that twelve samples were sent from the federation to CARPHA for testing and thankfully, all have returned NEGATIVE.
He also noted that it has been confirmed that the disease can be spread sexually and asked his listeners to take the necessary precautions.
Mr. Andrew Hendrickson, Manager at the Nevis Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), used the opportunity to outline how his institution is utilizing creative ways in reducing the amount of Refuse on the island and sought the continued assistance of the general public in this endeavour.
Mrs. Nadine Carty-Caines of the Health Promotion Unit, gave an update as to her Unit’s endeavours in raising public awareness.
Minister of Health, Hon. Mark Brantley, thanked all of the major players in the campaign for their dedication and sacrifice, to reduce/eliminate the mosquito population in the federation.
He noted that he was very happy to learn that the twelve samples had returned negative and stated that his government will continue to work closely with local, regional and worldwide agencies in curbing the spread of the disease and warned his listeners, that ultimately ‘our health lies in our own hands.’
Health Educator, Miss Shevanee Nisbett, then used a power point presentation to elaborate on the various pamphlets and PSA’s that are being utilized by her Unit, to raise public awareness.
Port Health Officer, Mr. Anthony Webbe, then conducted a demonstration as regards source reduction for mosquito breeding.
The press conference concluded with questions to the panellists by representatives of the several media houses present.