Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina (left) and Haitian President Michel Martelly
By Joseph Guyler Delva
SANTO-DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (HCNN) -- The Dominican Republic and Haiti have launched an aggressive fumigation and sensitization campaign to fight the mosquito that is spreading the virus responsible for the chikungunya fever outbreak, which has already sickened over 700,000 people in the two Caribbean countries sharing the island of Hispaniola.
Dominican President Danilo Medina has mobilized tens of thousands of public servants to go meet populations in various communities to spread the word as to how they can protect themselves from contracting the chikungunya fever and to help them eliminate and treat stagnant water that may be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
"President Medina has instructed us to increase the mobilization in our fight against the chikungunya by organizing a national day for the elimination of the chikungunya and reducing the possible places that can be used as nests by the mosquito," Dominican agriculture minister, Angel Estevez, told HCNN on Wednesday.
Through this movement, which involves practically all the ministerial departments, the Medina administration intends to mobilize on Friday some 400,000 government employees who will participate in the sensitization and cleaning campaign, on the occasion of the national day to fight chikungunya.
Haitian President Michel Martelly has also instructed the government and particularly the public health minister to take all necessary measures to counter the chikungunya mosquito vector through a more intense fumigation campaign, which has already begun.
Haiti's public health minister, Florence Duperval Guillaume, said all the staff members of her department are already mobilized throughout the country to sensitize people and radio ads have been distributed to inform people about the disease, while the fumigation campaign has been intensified.
"We have more fumigation equipment available now, so our teams can be in more places at the same time to try to counter the mosquito which transmits the chikungunya virus," Guillaume told HCNN.
"We started the campaign in Port-au-Prince, but our plan is to deploy teams in different regions of the country," she said.
Out of the 735,500 cases officially counted on Hispaniola, only about 32,500 are registered in the Dominican Republic over a period of about two months. However, the Dominican Republic has registered more cases of dengue than its neighbour: 2,251, compared to a few dozen in Haiti.