DR. ARUN KASHYAP // Handing Over of UNDP Funds for the Post Hurricane Sandy/Dengue Outbreak Prevention & Control Programme

Feb 4, 2013

• The Hon. Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Health
• Other Distinguished guests, Ladies & Gentlemen, good afternoon

On behalf of UNDP and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), it is a pleasure for me to be here on the occasion of the handing over of approximately Forty Thousand U.S. Dollars (US$40,000) to the Ministry of Health for the purchase of eighteen (18) fogging machines and chemicals, as part of the post Hurricane Sandy/Dengue Outbreak Prevention and Control Programme.

It was brought to our attention that in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Government of Jamaica was faced with the threat of a major outbreak of dengue haemorrhagic fever across the island.  Prior to the hurricane, the Ministry of Health had reported that there that were 2,198 clinically suspected dengue cases in early October 2012.   This figure was significant, as it represented a 380% increase over the number of cases reported for the corresponding period in 2011.  Further results indicated that 398 of these cases were confirmed to be dengue.  The total confirmed cases of 398 persons represented an increase of 59% over the lab confirmed cases for the corresponding period in 2011. 

Based on these figures from the Ministry of Health, the threat of a major epidemic was seriously considered to be imminent.  In response to a request from the Ministry of Health, The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs approved this grant of approximately US$40,000 to assist in the Ministry’s effort to combat this theat.

The equipment being provided will complement the efforts being made by the Ministry of Health at the national level.  To truly address the problem however, it is necessary that an all-embracing community approach be adopted.  By adopting this community-oriented approach, both community leaders and residents will become mutually engaged in addressing this common threat.  Such an approach would further serve to build community ownership of the process and encourage residents to be pro-active in addressing issues that pose a threat to the wellbeing of the community.  This community approach could then be replicated and transferred to enhance the economic development of communities, as leaders and residents collaborate to promote the best interest of the community.

Addressing the dengue threat by the Ministry therefore should not be seen as an end in itself.  Communities should be encouraged to be vigilant in keeping their communities clean, by ensuring that at the household levels, adequate safeguards are taken to reduce or eliminate stagnant water, cooperate with officials in the identification of water collection points and report early symptoms of infection to the relevant authorities.

The reporting of symptoms is particularly important as we live in a very mobile society.  It is therefore easy for the infected person to travel outside of his or her community, thus taking the virus with them to new areas.   Personal and community responsibility therefore play an important role in addressing this issue.  This is particularly important, given the vulnerability of the young and elderly, who may be unaware of the presence of the disease carrying mosquitoes, and are thus particularly susceptible to contracting the disease.  In this regard a special effort should be made to protect the young and elderly. 

We take this opportunity to reiterate and reinforce the commitment of the United Nations in Jamaica to work as a staunch partner with the people and Government of Jamaica to continue to support the creation of a Jamaica where respect for all, and the upholding of individual rights is not just a vision, but a reality. There is need for a robust, productive and sustainable economy, which is also equitable and caring, to guarantee the advancement of a Jamaica where all voices count. The United Nations stands steadfast in its efforts to join hands with all partners and contribute to assisting Jamaica to become ‘the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business’.

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