The Daily Herald writes that the head of the public health department Dr. Gijs Koot downplayed threat and pledged active prevention measures to address the dengue and chikungunya threat pointed to by Cuban Medical Entomologist Sandra Moreno Reyes in public reports.
Dr. Koot issued a correction of the recent Island Government press release which stated that Randall Johnson is the Head of Public Health Department stressing that Johnson oversees the Mosquito Control Department.
Dr. Koot downplays the mosquito threat stating that “dengue fever is relatively innocent and so is chikungunya, but we still need to try to prevent them.” As Head of the Public Health Department he pledged to be more active in creating awareness about dengue and chikungunya prevention measures via radio shows.
Regarding the report issued by Moreno Reyes, Dr. Koot noted the association of the researcher with Labiofam and the product promotion aspect of the work being conducted. While the promotion of the Cuban biological product is not an issue, he believes the product needs to be tested and compared with other alternatives. He would have liked Moreno’s presentation to include information about when the mosquitos are most active and to have publicly stressed the need to install nets. He argued that the island’s residents don’t use or maintain mosquito nets, something that is necessary especially when there are children in the household. Dr. Koot noted that there is a scarcity of mosquito nets on Saba.
Regarding the elimination of mosquito breeding sites Dr. Koot said that the community must “get rid of the water collection places and this need to be told over and over.” He would like to promote a programme in which participating households that comply with inspection would receive a “mosquito-free home” sticker. Such a programme he believes would “put some community pressure on all individuals.” He also proposed focusing the allocation of resources, arguing that when looking at mosquito breeding sites “80 per cent or more of the locations are fine” and do not need to be visited frequently, while others need closer supervision.
Dr. Koot noted the survey interviews conducted by Moreno Reyes in her research but he would have liked the survey to explore why certain people find it so difficult to clear up their household, if they need help or if they are “just ignorant.” To address these alleged behavioural challenges, Dr. Koot would like to commence a procedure in which auxiliary police officers would give penalties to those who do not comply.