There are several mosquito-borne diseases found in Belize including Dengue and Zika. The Ministry of Health has been making strides to eradicate these diseases. For example, in 2014, there were one thousand one hundred confirmed dengue cases; however, in 2017, the Ministry managed to reduce that amount to forty-seven cases. Yesterday, the Ministry of Health received equipment from the United Kingdom that will assist them to get an even better control of these diseases. Dr. Ramon Figueroa, the Chief Executive Officer of Ministry of Health, expressed the Ministry’s gratitude for the donation.
Dr.Ramon Figueroa, CEO, Ministry of Health: I think this is really a very special occasion and on behalf of the Ministry of Health and the Government of Belize we want to especially thank the British Government and Public Health England for this donation and the cooperation and support that they have been providing the Ministry of Health and in particular the Vector Control program in its fight against vector borne diseases. Certainly I think this is a manifestation of the excellent work that is being done by our team at the Vector Control Program and I want to publicly acknowledge once again the great work done by Mr.Kim Bautista and his team and urge that you keep on this fight and soon to reach the eradication of Malaria in Belize, we are very close and hopefully we can be one of the first in the region to achieve this goal. But certainly there are other diseases that we must also face and everyday we get new diseases popping up as mankind encroaches into the habitat of different mosquitos and different vectors so it’s an ongoing challenge that we will have to continuously be prepared to meet.”
Peter Hughes, the British High Commissioner, who handed over the equipment on behalf of Public Health England, said that the United Kingdom is happy to assist in the fight against vector-borne diseases.
Peter Hughes, British High Commissioner: “The United Kingdom has been carrying out work in the region to help reduce the spread of these vector borne diseases. The Medical Entomology Group of Public Health England Visited Belize last November to work with Mr.Bautista and his team at Vector Control in the Belizean Ministry of Health. They collaborated on supporting capacity for mosquito control with the Ministry of Health and the Caribbean Public Health Agency CAPHA. They visited Belmopan, Orange Walk and San Ignacio to discuss support to vector control and surveillance. Building on the excellent work already conducted in this country discussion were held regarding further enhancing activities through a pilot project in Orange Walk, Corozal and Cayo. With the support of Public Health England there now exists a number of opportunities to enhance and improve the capability and capacity of Belize to bring vector based diseased under even tighter control. To kickstart that activity we have been delighted to provide this equipment that you see here today.”
Meanwhile, Kim Bautista, Chief of Operations at the Vector Control Unit spoke about the equipment.
Kim Bautista, Chief Operations, Vector Control Unit: “With respect to the equipment there are several pieces of equipment of course it was quite sizable so we don’t have everything on display but basically we have several agreements that were made. So the first thing is that we would be piloting a project in Corozal, Orange Walk and Cayo district whereby we would be using a mobile based platform using a collector app and incorporated with GIS to basically work in most of our major urban areas for the collection of data regarding infestation levels of aedes mosquitos. What that will enable us to do is have real time data on what our primary targets are and by so doing we will be able to mobilize resources more efficiently. So that is just one part of the project. So we received thirty of those Samsung tablets, we are working on setting up a network of ovi traps which are basically a simple black cup which works with filter paper and it is used for the capturing of mosquitos, the mosquitos would lay their eggs in these cups and we’d be able to use those eggs, hatch them and identify what our primary vectors are- each of the two major vectors have different characteristics, their behavioural pattern is different so by determining what is in which area we’ll be able to apply the right interventions.”
The equipment is valued at approximately thirty thousand Belize dollars.