KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica's government says it intends to provide an estimated J$200 million (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) as part of the efforts to combat the spread of the dengue virus.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the funds are in addition to the J$331 million previously announced to activate the national mitigation plan, in the wake of confirmation of an outbreak of the virus.
Holness told Parliament that its important that these measures be implemented to reduce the effects of the virus and that the funds will be allocated to each constituency as well as educational institutions for mitigation efforts.
“An allocation of 70 million dollars to the Ministry of Education and youth to focus specifically on the cleanup of schools ,” Holness said, adding that “we have had several complaints of schools that are literally overtaken by mosquitoes.
“Seventy million dollars is not a lot but if it is used in directed ways, strategic ways, it can have an impact. The government is also announcing an allocation of two million dollars per constituency for a community clean up campaign and this will focus on the removal of bulky waste, but also recognize that some of the breeding grounds could be open lots…”
Late last month, the Ministry of Health and Wellness declared a dengue fever outbreak in Jamaica, after indicating that the island had surpassed the dengue epidemic threshold for July and August and on a trajectory to do the same for September.
“This means, the country has seen an increase in the number of cases compared to what is normally seen during these months of the year,” the ministry noting that there had been more than 565 suspected, presumed and confirmed cases of dengue.
The ministry said the dominant strain has been Dengue Type Two, which is one of the deadliest and has not been predominant in Jamaica since 2010. The strain, in addition to fever, can cause two or more other symptoms of typical dengue infection and can be fatal.
However, there are no dengue-related deaths classified at this time, but six deaths are being investigated, the ministry said.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease. The Aedes agypti mosquito, which transmits the disease, is endemic to Jamaica.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, has welcomed the US$500,000 pledged by the United States to helo Jamaica deal with the outbreak.
“The United States and Jamaica have a very strong friendship… a long-standing one. This coming together is a testament to that friendship and a commitment to deal with challenges as partners should whenever they arise. Again, on behalf of the Government, I just want to say thank you,” he added.