[UPDATED] Khadijah Ameen blasts government for dengue spread


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UNC MP Khadijah Ameen. - File photo
UNC MP Khadijah Ameen. – File photo

UNC shadow minister for local government and MP for St Augustine Khadijah Ameen says the government is not allocating sufficient resources to the fight against dengue.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) has recorded 229 lab-confirmed cases and two fatalities in Trinidad and Tobago as of July 9, a rise from 126 cases on June 21.

Speaking at a media briefing at UNC headquarters in Chaguanas on July 9, Ameen said she was aware of numerous instances of various regional corporations not being given the resources they need to tackle the spread of the virus.

The virus spreads from mosquitoes to people and is common in tropical and subtropical climates.

Symptoms include high fever, headache, body aches, nausea and rash.

Ameen said Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh was burying his head in the sand and politicising the issue.

She accused the government of not allocating enough resources and manpower to the state entities critical to combating the spread of the disease.

“Entomologists, public health inspectors, environmental health professionals, data collection and mosquito surveillance are all professions that are needed in having a comprehensive, integrated approach to mosquito management.”

Ameen said the Insect Vector Control Division is supposed to take the lead in developing the strategies to combat the spread while the regional corporations provide manpower and assist in operations.

She said the UNC had reports of several of the units being understaffed while other units either had no vehicles or had vehicles that were partially functional with employees paying for repairs themselves.

“The division falls under the Minister of Health and it is supposed to take the lead and to be supported by local government bodies. But that is not happening.

“Because of the lack of proper management, because of incompetence on behalf on the part of the minister of health, you have a lack of resources, a lack of human resources, a lack of vehicles and equipment as well as chemicals.”

She said a lack of efficient operations was hindering the fight against the illness.

“We also have a breakdown, because the health agencies are not sharing as much information as they should with the regional corporations and that is supposed to help to guide them in their approach to combating thinking.”

Ameen accused the government of being reactive instead of proactive.

“Has our government been implementing any additional surveillance, prevention and control measures? And has the government done enough to boost the reduction of the transmission of the virus and mosquito presence in Trinidad and Tobago? The clear answer is no.”

The ministry has said it will impose fines of up to $3,500 on people whose premises become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

She said the fines were unfair as several regional corporations had been forced to cut back on the frequency of garbage removal services due to budget cuts.

“(There are) long stretches of roadway, lonely roads where people dump garbage, and regional corporations are grappling to clean and clean up this mess. All of these are opportunities for mosquitoes to breathe in clean water. So we are asking that the minister of local government be engaged to ensure that a comprehensive drainage clearing programme is conducted in every regional corporation.”

Ameen said there were numerous measures which could help fight the spread of the illness apart from issuing fines.

“They used to call the UNC government a box-drain government, but box-drains are one of the measures that work to improve drainage and stop the spread of dengue.

“We are asking that litter-prevention wardens in all regional corporations be boosted. We are asking for a comprehensive vacant lot clearing programme in every region, including to deal with derelict vehicles as well as illegal dumping sites. Only then would it be fair to ask citizens to pay a fine of $3,500 if they are errant.”

This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

United National Congress’s (UNC) shadow local government minister and MP for St Augustine Khadijah Ameen says the government is not allocating sufficient resources to the fight against dengue.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) has recorded 229 lab-confirmed cases and two fatalities in Trinidad and Tobago as of July 9, a rise from 126 cases on June 21.

Speaking at a media briefing this morning, Ameen said she is aware of numerous instances of various regional corporations not being given the resources they need to tackle the spread of the virus.

The virus spreads from mosquitoes to people and is common in tropical and subtropical climates.

Symptoms include high fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and rash.

Ameen said Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is burying his head in the sand and politicising the issue.

She accused the government of being reactive instead of proactive, saying there are numerous measures which can help fight the spread of the illness apart from issuing fines.

The ministry has said it will impose fines of up to $3,500 on people whose premises become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“They used to call the UNC government a box-drain government, but box drains are one of the measures that work to improve drainage and stop the spread of dengue,” Ameen said.


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