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May 4, 2018

Donations to Fight Mosquito-Borne Diseases

The Ministry of Health’s Vector Control Unit received a trove of donations, including traps and tablets to fight mosquito borne diseases. The British Government handed over the equipment to the Ministry of Health on Thursday to strengthen surveillance and outbreak response of dengue and zika in high risk areas of Corozal, Orange Walk and Cayo. Andrea Polanco has more in the following report.

 

Peter Hughes

Peter Hughes, British High Commissioner

“The largest single cause of death on the planet is not conflict, it is not violent crime nor is it the deadly illnesses that we’ve become used to hearing about such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It is in fact malaria. More people die of malaria in the world than of any other cause.”

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

But for Belize, malaria may soon be a thing of the past.

 

Ramon Figueroa

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, C.E.O., Ministry of Health

“Soon to reach the elimination or eradication of malaria in Belize. We are very close and hopefully we can be one of the first in the region to achieve this goal.”

 

But there are still many other vector-based threats in Belize, including dengue and zika. But the Vector Control Unit of the Ministry of Health is stepping up surveillance and eradication efforts of the aedes mosquito. The UK Government donated thirty thousand dollars worth of equipment to be used in areas with high risks of dengue and zika in Belize.

 

Kim Bautista, Chief of Operations, Vector Control Unit, MoH

“As you see year in and year out, with the increase in cases, last year we had about three hundred and sixty laboratory confirmed dengue, about over three hundred confirmed ZIKA cases. So, I think we’re in a situation where no country has the answer to reduce the burden of these diseases significantly. So, the approach that we’re taking is a multi-base approach to see if what we’re doing, the spraying that we do if it is effective and so the traps will enable us to have mosquitoes that we use for insecticide resistance testing.”

 

The Vector Control Unit will be piloting a project using technology to determine the spread and density of the aedes mosquito. Thirty tablets will be employed in the Orange Walk, Corozal and Cayo districts.

 

Kim Bautista

Kim Bautista

“We will be using a mobile base platform – android base tablet. Using a collector app and incorporated with GIS, to basically work in most of our major urban areas for the collection of data regarding infestation levels of aedes mosquitoes. What that will enable us to do is to have real time data on what are our primary target areas. By so doing, we’ll be able to mobilize resources more efficiently.”

 

As a part of the wider project, three simple, yet effective methods to reduce the mosquito populations are being introduced.

 

Kim Bautista

“We’re working on setting up a network of ovitraps, which are basically a simple black cup which works with a filter paper and it is used for the capturing of mosquitoes. The mosquitoes would lay their eggs in these cups and we’ll be able to use those eggs, hatch them and identify what are our primary vectors. What’s referred to as a gravid trap; It’s quite a simple device, minimal input, no electricity necessary or any power, but it’s basically a trap which you have with water. It’s dark so it basically attracts mosquitoes and these traps will basically serve many purposes. You can use them for the capturing of mosquitoes in certain areas and they will trap and kill mosquitoes. Likewise you can use those for identifying what mosquito you have in which area. And lastly, we have the BG Sentinel trap which is a power operated trap which is used for the capturing of mosquitoes for identification.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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