By Alexander Shaw, Columnist
Jamaica is again threatened by the looming dengue crisis that has reached epidemic level.
Unsurprisingly, our parliamentarians are turning the matter into a political football as they always do. The virus is no stranger to us, as we were visited by it not more than two years ago.
In case you are not aware, dengue is a viral disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and flourishes mainly in tropical areas owing to the warm atmospheric climate.
According to medical experts, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat the illness. Therefore, we are advised to only use Panadol for relief of the symptoms, as the usage of any other substance may very well cause more harm than good. Also, don’t forget to check your doctor if the symptoms appear.
Common symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, severe headaches, muscle and joint pains, skin rash, and vomiting.
As our already tattered health system grapples with this challenge, I can’t help but to reflect on the chikungunya virus – or ‘chicken gunman’ (as some Jamaicans called it).
There were many lessons to have learnt from its strong and far-reaching presence and, as such, we should haste not to get embroiled in the blame game, but to seek nonpartisan solutions – and seek them earnestly.
Lest we forget, these bedtime musicians won’t discriminate. They are uptown and downtown. Whether you are green or blue – you could be orange or have no clue, these mosquitoes will bite at you.
Hence, the least we can do is take preventative measures.
Mosquitoes breed and thrive in stagnant water. Many of us inadvertently harbour these fugitives! How so?
From time to time, we get light showers of rain. The remains of such rainfall settle in old containers such as tyres and juice bottles, and stay there until the ‘vampires’ discover them and turn them into breeding grounds.
Therefore, I urge you to implement a state of emergency in your backyards and police the breeding grounds.
You should, among other things, keep your lawn at minimum low.
Let us not sit down and wait for the government to respond. In the absence of a united approach on this issue, we will sooner than later become patients of the island’s under-resourced public health facilities.
I equally believe that the government should ramp up its sensitization efforts to prevent a further outbreak.
However, it would be remiss of me not to admit that, as citizens, we have an important role to play. Most of us – if not all, have access to social media. Instead of commenting that‘Jamaica is not a real place’, we can share medical tips on ways to identify, prevent and cure dengue. This indeed is one way of increasing public awareness.
Notwithstanding all of that, the Ministry of Health needs to intensify the fogging exercise especially in overgrown areas, allocate more medication and other resources to public health facilities, and secure the services of efficient laboratories in order to get speedy and confirmed diagnosis.
I know that we are grieving particularly about the lives lost as a result of this epidemic – and many will even accuse the health ministry of dodging the reality in the onset.
While we are lamenting and registering our disgust, let us play our part. I really can’t repeat this point enough. The fact is that one life lost is far too many.
It might be true that more fogging is needed. However, that will not rid us of all the mosquitoes. For that reason, we all should be vigilant and proactive. Clap them or repel them, you may just be able to stop them.
Alexander L. Shaw is an educator and attorney-at-law. The views he expressed are not necessarily those of The Beacon. Email your feedback to him at Legalservices.firstname.lastname@example.org and to The Beacon at email@example.com
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