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Caribbean scales up mosquito control efforts

WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) | Countries in the Americas, including the Caribbean, are working to control mosquitos and raise awareness of the diseases they transmit as part of the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Mosquito Awareness Week efforts. PAHO said the focus is to provide information and promote community participation in eliminating breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue, chikungunya, zika and yellow fever.

According to PAHO, each country organizes its own activities at national and local levels. It said a goal for the 2017 campaign is to raise doctors and health workers’ awareness of their role as health providers and disseminators of information, encouraging them to communicate with patients about personal protection measures and how to eliminate mosquito breeding sites.

“Controlling mosquitoes is crucial because the diseases they transmit can be fatal or debilitating, and represent a large burden for country health systems,” said Dr Marcos Espinal, director of PAHO’s Department of Communicable Diseases and Health Analysis. He noted that PAHO member states have approved a new integrated strategy to control arboviral diseases, including Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Mosquito Awareness Week started in 2016 in the context of the health emergency caused by the Zika virus outbreak that had spread to 48 countries and territories in the Americas, including the Caribbean.

Campaigns have focused on mosquito elimination and personal protective measures against mosquito bites, especially for pregnant women, said PAHO, adding that some 27 countries have held campaigns. PAHO said the campaign, which is being partly inanced with funds from the US Agency for International Development, is part of an effort to combat the rising scourge of vector-borne disease in the Americas. It includes technical components, as well as communication activities, by ministries of health.

Caribbean countries celebrated Mosquito Awareness Week using the slogan, “Small bite, big threat. Fight the bite, destroy mosquito breeding sites.”

The initiative involves civic groups, grassroots organizations, local and national health authorities, the private sector and other agencies that have joined forces to combat vector-borne diseases. Activities include launch events, workshops, forums, and school and community actions against breeding sites for mosquitos. “This strategy recommends closer coordination between the health sector and communities and families, promoting active participation and access to information so they can take a more active role in preventing and controlling