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Making it safe from all this fire and water

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

–– 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Truth be told, it need not be fear, as much as concern or considerateness, driving us at this time to self-preservation and the health security of our neighbours, as we battle with the continuing spate of influenza-like illnesses, sinus infections and other respiratory challenges. In recent times, the cases of dengue have been fortified by such viruses as chikungunya and Zika, and now the looming paralytic Guillain-Barré syndrome. And health officials are rightly paying due and diligent attention.

One death in any Barbadian family is still too many.

It is this sharpness of the viral spike and its severity that have our concerned health leaders pleading with the public for sustained hygienic practices –– of person and of environment –– and especially to those people presenting respiratory or influenza-like symptoms.

Most certainly, the stagnant water that seems to seep up on us will give sustenance and potency to the Aedes aegypti mosquito that is noted for the proliferation of these virus attacks on the human population. The elimination of such unused and wanted liquid ought not to be a serious problem if we give priority to preservation of life.

Of course, much of this stagnant water may be found in irresponsibly and illegally dumped receptacles such as bottles and emptied food tins –– snug places of breeding for the dreaded mosquito.

Contradistinctively, the flame will be as damaging to the body as the parasitic water-borne elements.

There was a time when we thought the days of the neighbourhood stuff-burning brigade had been numbered, and we were eagerly looking forward to the absence of any more of the billowing smoke over us. Sadly, it would seem the neighbourhood fires remain alive and blazing.

The anti-burning activists who have been advocating severe penalties for those setting garbage afire in neighbourhoods –– and with flaunted impunity, caring not for the asthmatic and chronic sinusitis sufferers –– must be an disheartened and embittered lot.

It is no overstatement the inconsiderate practice of neighbourhood could put asthmatics and those who suffer with other respiratory problems in mortal danger.

And there must be an alternative to this unreasonable behaviour in the disposal of garbage.

And we would be no more unreasonable requesting tougher and more relevant legislation by the Attorney General to stop this madness of burning waste in and around residential districts. And if the Minister of Health is serious about our improved health as a nation he too must prod the Attorney General to.

The Government has taken its flak for having enforced regulations related to illegal parking, motor licensing, food health and safety licensing, and the lot. What makes its back any less sturdy against those who would pillory it for enforcing laws that would save lives from the billows of the neighbourhood firebombers?

It ought to be noted too that burning doesn’t necessarily exterminate that which is to be dumped. There is the discomforting residue of embers and ash; and metal containers hardly go anywhere.

Given the many cases of respiratory problems Barbados faces, control laws on refuse burning are urgent and requisite. Lardy-dardy mouthings just will not cut it.

Which brings us back to the matter of overall cleanliness.

Those of us exposed to Christian religious teaching will hardly be unfamiliar with the idiom Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness –– that after the worshipping of God the second most important thing is the pure preservation of self and neighbour whom one ought to love as oneself, if we should take Jesus by His word.

Of course, for us Barbadians to protect ourselves from the various viruses we need to be rid too of all possible mosquito breeding habitats inside the home. The simple changing of water in our decorative vases, bowls and flower pot plates on alternative days will go a long way –– for us and our neighbours.

And, as important, we must ourselves practise a high standard of personal hygiene, amidst it regular washing and cleaning of the hands. We must not by our laziness and indifference, or in ignorance, aid and abet the mission of the Aedes aegypti mosquito and its arsenal of viruses!

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