Jamaica pumps millions into Zika fight


Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller


KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday February 3, 2016 – Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has announced that her government will inject an additional J$200 million (US$1.6 million) into the campaign to fight the Zika virus.

And she has insisted that there must be a non-partisan approach to the battle, involving all Jamaicans.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed one case of the Zika virus in Jamaica – a four-year-old child who has since recovered – but Simpson Miller said that should not be cause for alarm.

“It must instill greater urgency to do all we can to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. I am deeply concerned about this threat to public health. Every one of us has a duty to destroy mosquito breeding sites,” she said in a broadcast address last night.

“This is a moment for a national response with individual and collective action. This is an occasion when we must demonstrate the strength of true community spirit. We all have to pull together. There can be no political lines drawn where Zika is concerned. Let us remember that prevention is important for all of us.”

Simpson Miller said the Ministry of Health has been working with the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and the Caribbean Public Health Agency, to ensure an effective response.

“Additional financial and human resources have been provided to the Ministry of Health and other Government entities, so that they can be more effective in their actions . . . At the same time a major cleanup campaign will be undertaken by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing under the JEEP Programme, with funding from the Tourism Enhancement Fund,” she said. “I have also instructed the Minister of Health to increase preparations across the island and to engage all sectors in a local and national response.”

The prime minister added that given the associated health risks, especially for pregnant women, the Ministry of Health has advised women to delay getting pregnant for the next six to 12 months.

“Of course, ladies, this is your personal choice,” she was quick to add.

Simpson Miller said the National Family Planning Board has increased its public information and other interventions. She said it will assist Jamaicans with family planning options free of cost.

 Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)