Bad habits cause rodent problems

Acting Minister of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner

Wherever man has created a habitat, he has encouraged the presence of disease carrying vectors.

Acting Minister of Health, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner made this observation earlier today while addressing the City of Bridgetown Rodent Control Programme at the Barbados Workers’ Union Headquarters, Solidarity House, Harmony Hall, St. Michael.

Sandiford-Garner said that associated with the presence of these vectors were diseases that created many challenges to human health and safety. She further stated that many of these diseases had resulted in sickness, pain, and at times death.

The senator noted that records within the Ministry of Health indicated that members of families, friends, and others from time to time have been affected by diseases, such as Leptospirosis, rat-bite sever, Salmonellosis, and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, all caused by rodents.

Additionally, she explained, rodents contributed to economic loss through fires and the consumption and spoilage of animal and human foodstuff.

Sandiford-Garner contended that failure to develop control mechanisms would have been direct and indirect impacts, adding that the management of the Environmental Health Department had not lost sight of the importance that had to be placed on the control of rodents across the island, but within the City of Bridgetown in particular.

“Indeed, Bridgetown has much to lose economically and socially, if strategies are not developed to control these vectors in this commercial, financial and business hub,” Sandiford-Garner added.

The Environmental Health Department has an integrated vector control programme delivered through the Vector Control Unit and six of the eight polyclinics across the island where Environmental Health Officers are stationed, the acting minister said, adding that the strategy utilised by the department involved health education, source reduction, community health activities, alliance building activities, chemical control and enforcement of legislation.

Its major goal was to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with vector-borne illnesses as well as to reduce economic loss to home owners and businesses within the City. Sandiford- Garner disclosed that over the last ten years annual leptospirosis cases have ranged from a low of 11 to a high of 44, with an annual average of 21 — and an average of two deaths per year. (NC)

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