GIS -15 October 2014: Challenges still exist in the strategy for the control and prevention of vector-borne diseases and there is need to further adopt measures to prevent local transmission of chikungunya, dengue and malaria.
The Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Mr Lormus Bundhoo, made this statement at a press conference on vector-borne diseases held in Port Louis yesterday. He said that the vector mosquito that can transmit both chikungunya and dengue is present in Mauritius as well as the mosquito that transmits malaria. He further cautioned that, once detected in a country, dengue is very difficult to eradicate and tends to recur periodically. Hence the need be vigilant and take all precautionary measures so as to prevent the proliferation of vector-borne diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, he said.
According to meteorological forecast for next year, extreme weather events frequency will increase, intermittent heat waves will vary between 33 and 37 degrees Celsius, and cyclones and flash floods are likely to occur more frequently. These weather factors are conducive to the proliferation of vector-borne diseases, said the Minister. Other challenges outlined comprise: extensive travel links to endemic countries such as India, China and Thailand which cause a rise in imported cases of these diseases which can trigger local transmission; lack of environmental cleanliness in most regions in Mauritius and environmental littering that promote the breeding of mosquitoes.
Mr Bundhoo pointed out that control in dengue proliferation becomes challenging as viruses are transmitted to mosquito eggs which remain viable for months until they hatch under favourable conditions. This situation may potentially lead to the resurgence of dengue well after the disease has been controlled, he said.
On that score preventive measures for chikungunya, dengue and malaria have been strengthened. In the wake of the multisectoral meeting with the Minister with all public and private stakeholders held yesterday three tasks force have been set up. The first one on cleanliness and environment will monitor the cleanliness programme around the country so as to eliminate breeding places. The second task force will reinforce the communication strategy to sensitise the population on precautions to be taken while the third task force will be responsible for the enforcement of prevailing legislations.
The Minister pointed out that all efforts are being deployed in the case of the Ebola Virus and the plague epidemic presently affecting Madagascar. He announced that some 60 Health Surveillance Officers have been recruited and the Operational Plan for the control and prevention of chikungunya and dengue in Mauritius has been updated.
With regard to the Sterilised Insect Technique project which started in 2012 with the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it aims to reduce dependency on chemicals for vector control activities. The technique, which utilises GAMA Irradiation to sterilise male mosquitoes, is being tried on a pilot basis in Panchavati and Pointe des Lascars in the region of Rivière du Rempart.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life indicate that from January to 10 October 2014, 15 cases of malaria (imported), and 57 cases of dengue out of which 44 were imported have been detected. No cases of chikungunya have been reported.
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