A defiant NDP Chairman Daniel Cummings has released documentary evidence in support of his thesis that the current outbreak in dengue fever cases was preventable.
For several weeks, the issue of dengue has taken national prominence even in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic as there has been a surge in hospital admission and six (6) related deaths.
Cummings bemoaned the cuts in the budget at the Environmental Health Services within the Ministry of Health.
He said while speaking on the New Times program on Nice Radio:
“I have gone back to the budget debates and on at least two occasions, I pointed the government to the reduction made in the allocation for vector control in the Environmental Health Services.”
“Even when they put it in the budget, they don’t spend it. But they actually reduced the budgetary allocation twice.”
Mr Cummings added:
“In the year 2016 in the Estimates on page 401, the Environmental Health component, in the year before in 2015, the revised Estimate was $5.145 million dollars, the approved estimate was 4.96 [million dollars]”.
“We look at the revised estimate based on their adjustment, 5.145 [million dollars] in 2016, the actual estimate is 4.888 [million dollars]…this is 2016, again and all this time the mosquito index continue to grow, the health department is not able to do what it would but the government continues to reduce the allocation.”
We obtained a copy of the documents that Mr Cummings referred to in his radio presentation. The documents indicate the following:
We found that in the case of 2015-16, there was a variance of $182, 875 between the revised estimate and the final approved estimate by parliament.
In relation to his claim of a cut in budget in 2013, we found a variance of $49,099 between the revised estimate and the approved estimate.
However, the NDP spokesperson went on further to chide the government that they have tried to deny the fact that they cut the budget at least twice.
“They were trying to keep it hush hush. We know a significant number of our homes are breeding grounds for mosquito.”
He also claimed while the government is promoting the benefits of the papaya leaf to help manage the symptoms of the virus, “they don’t have the medication to reduce the fever, they don’t have anything.”
“What is worse is that the staff in the Ministry of Health were not prepared to deal with dengue and there appears to be several instances of misdiagnosis by technical people which possibly may have resulted in death…It means that the health system has virtually collapsed.”
“Dengue is not something new, dengue is something that has been around and will be around for a very long time, but it is a preventable disease.”
The first recognized Dengue epidemics occurred almost simultaneously in Asia, Africa, and North America in the 1780s, shortly after the identification and naming of the disease in 1779.
About two-thirds of the world’s population live in areas infested with dengue vectors, mainly Aedes aegypti. All four dengue viruses are circulating, sometimes simultaneously, in most of these areas. It is estimated that up to 80 million persons become infected annually although marked underreporting results in the notification of much smaller figures.
Currently dengue is endemic in all continents except Europe and epidemic DHF occurs in Asia and in the Americas. The incidence of DHF is greater by far in the Asian countries than in the Americas. In the Americas, the emergence of epidemic DHF occurred in 1981 almost 30 years after its appearance in Asia and its incidence is showing a marked upward trend.
Because most mosquitoes breed in standing water, source reduction can be as simple as emptying water from containers near homes. Old car tyres which every vincentian garden and every vacan lot has at least one are ideal breeding grounds for dengue. This is something that usually the inhabitants can do. Mosquito breeding sites can be eliminated by removing unused plastic pools, old tires or buckets, cleaning clogged gutters, and repairing stopcock leaks , it is also achieved by changing the water in birdbaths regularly (4 days approximately ), drying swampy areas and hollows near trees. Eliminating such breeding sources can be extremely effective and a permanent way to reduce mosquito populations without resorting to insecticides. 3However, this is not possible in some areas of developing countries where water cannot be continuously replaced due to constant water shortages. Some people think that mosquito control is the responsibility of the government so these methods are not performed regularly and their effectiveness is reduced.
But the real source has been rivers and waterways such as those in Kingstown and Calliaqua being blocked where they enter the sea, hence containing stagnant water. This is a clear failure by the ULP government.
Lets not forget the rat infestation, with rats running through schools at nigh urinating on desks and leaving behind possibly highly infectious diseases such as hantavirus, leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV), Tularemia and Salmonella. It is a dot on the card that sooner perhaps than later there will be crisis where a whole classroom of children die. The ULP government have known about this problem, it has been going on for years.
There have been hundreds of articles and exposes of the rat infestation in SVGs schools, it still exists, rat droppings everywhere.
The ULP are killing our children with dengue and and there is the distinct possibility of a epidemic of rat born diseases in SVG.