Jamaican Health: The Politics of Chikungunya

Over the past few days, I have closely observed and concluded that we have hit a yet another political low by politicizing the Chikungunya Virus. But am I surprised? Well not quite. It happened with the death of Mario Dean, it happened with the JUTC and so many other issues.

One activist who seems to be more concerned about winning a seat than about people’s health has been vociferous and seems ready to see every case with Chikungunya-like symptoms diagnosed as such even without confirmatory tests. Mark you, this man and most of the persons following his diagnostic principles are devoid of medical qualifications.

The health ministry has to report figures presented by the various health regions. It is erroneous therefore for calls to be made for fluff to be added to the figures without confirmation of Chikungunya. As with any other disease, the country cannot capture every single case and can only report what is confirmed as a diagnosis.

I agree fully that it is imperative that the government rolls out more programmes to combat the virus but should we be really focusing on the numbers confirmed or preventing more from contracting? The calls should be more in line with increased drain cleaning, encouraging residents to get rid of breeding sites and also encouraging them to use insect repellents inter alia.

The conversation over the past few days has not been focused on the prevention but rather adding to the numbers even if it is erroneous and will result in a misrepresentation of information. I do understand that elections are close but the way to present yourself as an alternative is not politicizing issues which are non-political but to provide workable solutions to the issues.

Curtailing the virus has to be a concerted effort and all blame cannot be laid on the government. We all have our part to play- stop throwing garbage in gullies, clear our environment of possible breeding grounds. The government too has it’s role in destroying major breeding grounds, fogging and continuing the education campaign.

Today, we need to begin the drive to repaint the Chikungunya flag. Chikungunya Virus is neither orange nor green. It respects neither colour nor creed and as such, we should not paint it but leave it neutral. Elections will come and go leaving Chikungunya if the right calls are not made and the right actions taken.

Aujaé K. Dixon
-El Comandante-

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