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Curacao health officials take steps to combat chikungunya virus after detection in St Maarten
Published on January 16, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

WILLEMSTAD, Curacao -- The probability of the chikungunya virus in Curacao has increased now that the virus has been detected in the Dutch part of St Maarten and, according to Minister of Health Ben Whiteman, his ministry must combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito effectively by providing information to the population through horizontal programs.

The minister argued for capacity within his ministry to initiate horizontal programs. According to Whiteman, the ministry has worked for years through vertical programs. However, this way is costly and does not provide lasting results.

A vertical program in combating dengue and chikungunya, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, for example, deploys more inspectors to remove breeding grounds in communities.

“You point out a situation and then you respond. This is a vertical program,” the minister explained.

According to the minister, processes within the health sector are complex. By continuing to react to situations you do not reach efficiency, the minister said. He argued for other ways to fight against the problem in the long-term.

The chikungunya virus causes mild fever and joint pains. The virus is similar to the dengue virus, but is not lethal, unlike the dengue virus.

One major difference is that the recovery can take weeks and some older patients may continue to suffer from stiffness and pain in their joints for several years.

The most effective method of prevention is the prevent contamination by the mosquito.

“In horizontal programs you anticipate situations that may arise. So even with dengue or Chikungunya, for example, information about the methods to combat the virus should be on TV, on the radio and in schools. Leaflets and books, which explain the virus and fighting capabilities, should be distributed,” the minister explained.

“A mosquito can reproduce itself in a coca-cola cap with stationary water. If you spread this information, you have a wide range. If you are dependent only on vertical programs, then you have the same problem within five minutes. There will never be enough people to perform these inspections,” Whiteman said.

Republished with permission of the Curacao Chronicle
 
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