JA$500 million National Health Emergency Response – 30% of Students absent from School as GOJ FINALLY serious about Chikungunya Epidemic

“Our main focus is assisting Jamaicans in our communities to clean up our surroundings and reduce mosquito breeding. This is an urgent national task that must involve everybody. Our responsibility to ourselves, our families and our country requires our personal involvement for the long haul”

Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, during a Press Release on Thursday October 9th, 2014 when she announced the $500 Million allocation for a National Health Emergency Response

The Chikungunya Virus is now wreaking havoc on the entire Jamaica as it appears no-one is immune, not even children, as you’d expect they have better immunity to the Chikungunya Virus. 

The Chikungunya Virus is now responsible for 30% of children, teaching and administrative staff in all Six (6) Education Regions not turning up for school as noted in the article “Schools Coping With Chikungunya Outbreak” Published Wednesday October 8, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.  The figures, quoted from a Survey conducted by the Ministry of Education and published on Wednesday October 8th, 2014, indicate the following:

1.      3,911 students had missed day from school
2.      591 teachers had missed day from school
3.      2,487 suspected cases in Region One i.e. Kingston and St Andrew, making them the largest single infected region
4.      945 suspected cases in Region Two i.e. St Thomas, Portland and St Mary
5.      23 suspected cases in Region Five i.e. Manchester and St Elizabeth

It would be interesting to get updated numbers from the Ministry of Education to see how badly it’s spreading, especially in St. Thomas and Portland, the hardest hit parishes based on my blog article entitled “31 infected during Jamaican Chikungunya Virus Epidemic - 113 Deaths in the Caribbean as Jamaica grapples with Chikungunya Virus Outbreak”.

It’s clear at this point that Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites can do little more than just talk, as the plans as discussed by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education as stated in my blog article entitled “Education and Health Ministries Meet before 2014-15 Academic Year - How to Stop Chikungunya Virus spread by Aedes aegypti Mosquito among Children” aren’t working!

So what’s happening on the Campus of the MICO University College?

Chikungunya Virus and MICO – Do It with Thy Might hard when you can barely walk to Classes

At the MICO University College, in the week of Sunday October 5th 2014, I had at least one class, The Learner We Teach, cancelled because of this Chikungunya Virus. The school population also seems to be a lot less cheery and boisterous under the Tree in Courtyard, as many have apparently been plucked by this unfortunate “chicken gunman”.

Miconians, who live by the motto, “Do It with Thy Might”, are finding it mighty to attend classes regularly when they can barely walk to Classes in the first place!

I’ve stopped carrying my Dell Lattitude D520 Laptop aka R2D2, to MICO University College Campus and sitting under the tree as I’m afraid of being in the open air and getting bitten by another Aedes aegypti Mosquito.

I’ve already gotten the Chikungunya Virus since Friday September 27th 2014 and have long recovered with lifelong immunity to the disease. I only have to deal with a reoccurring rash in an unmentionable region of my body and arthritic pain in my right ankle when I sit down for too long. Not to mention getting Dengue Fever, to which my Chikungunya Virus-weakened immune system is STILL susceptible.

Worse, the mini-cantina (‘cause it’s NOT large enough to be called a Canteen!) closes on the weekend at the MICO University College, forcing me to stay home and do work or go to the Learning Commons or the Computer Lab at the Library. I’m not really fond of the e-Learning Center, as albeit their Computers are fast, they have no Air Conditioning and it’s a trifle hot in that Computer Lab!

Blue Power and the Citronella Soap – Pharmacies cashing in as Portmore is Chikungunya central

Many of my batch mates are slowly becoming a part of the 60% that Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Kevin Harvey claims has to get the disease before it would have run its course as noted in my blog article entitled “Minister of Health comes clean on Chikungunya Virus Epidemic - 35 Official Cases as 60 percent possibly Infected and Medicines running low”.

As for the Hostel peeps on the Campus of the MICO University College, they’re slowly starting to wear a new cologne called Citronella! Most likely the new Fragrance they’re sporting is either the lotion, which I also use or the new Soap from Blue Power that's infused with Citronella Essence as reported in the article “Mosquito Repellent Soap - The New 'Chik-V Fighter'”, published Saturday October 11, 2014 by Anastasia Cunningham, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner


Clearly, Blue Power is cashing in on this Chikungunya Virus along with the pharmacists selling acetaminophen by the Box load, especially in Portmore as I’d pointed out in my blog article entitled Minister of Health comes clean on Chikungunya Virus Epidemic - 35 Official Cases as 60 percent possibly Infected and Medicines running low”.

So what the Ministry of Health doing to prevent the spread of the Chikungunya Virus since Minister of Health Dr. Fenton Ferguson appeared on Television on Sunday September 28th 2014 to address concerns regarding the Chikungunya Virus Epidemic? For that we turn to the Horses’ mouth, the Jamaica Information Service.

JA$500 million National Health Emergency Response – GOJ FINALLY serious about the Chikungunya Epidemic

Well, since Monday October 6th 2014, ODPEM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management) has begun to treat this as a National Emergency issuing advisories on BOTH Chikungunya Virus as well as the Ebola Virus as noted in the article “National Emergency Operation Center Activated to Respond to Chikungunya Outbreak”, published October 6, 2014 By Cheryl Nichols, Director, Information & Training, ODPEM, The Jamaica Information Service.

In the meantime, Minister of Health Dr. Fenton Ferguson has basically pointed out that the people of Jamaica need to do their part in preventing the spread of the Chikungunya Virus by eliminating the breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti Mosquito as stated in the article “Citizens Urged to Assist in Drive to Control Chikungunya”, published October 6, 2014 By Glenis A. Rose, The Jamaica Information Service


He pointed this out at the official opening and handover ceremony for the upgraded Williamsfield Health Centre in Westmoreland on Friday October 3rd 2014, quote: “Containing and controlling the disease cannot be the responsibility of government alone. Citizens must take responsibility for their own protection and also the protection of those in their households. It requires a comprehensive and integrated approach with government, private sector, citizen associations and the churches, because homes, places of work and places of worship are some of the areas where we see the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes”.

Very true, as in our weakened stated from the Chikungunya Virus infection, we're susceptible to the Dengue Fever, also a Virus carried by the same Aedes aegypti Mosquito. To this end, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, during a Press Release on Thursday October 9th, 2014, relate to the Public the fact that the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) is finally serious about tackling the Chikungunya Virus epidemic.

Aside from symbolically cleaning her constituency of South West St. Andrew of course, which may have really been more of a case of the Prime Minister of Jamaica leading by example as noted in the article “PM Leads Clean-Up Drive in South West St. Andrew”, published October 4, 2014 By Athaliah Baker, The Jamaica Information Service.


This as she's allocated some JA$500 million towards containing the spread of the Chikungunya Virus on the island as part of a National Health Emergency Response as reported in the article “Government Allocates $500 Million For National Health Emergency Response”, published October 9, 2014 By Latonya Linton, The Jamaica Information Service and “$500 Million Allocated For Chik-V And Ebola Response”, Published Thursday October 9, 2014 12:30 pm, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This is a lot more than the JA$12 million that the Ministry of Health had decided on Monday, August 25th , 2014 to spend on Vector control to combat the Chikungunya Virus my blog article entitled “JA$12 million for Vector Control by Minister of Health - 50 Suspected Cases indicates Panic, not Chikungunya, is spreading”.

The JA$500 million is apparently being spent as follows:

1.      Free Paracetamlol aka acetaminophen aka Panadol at all public health facilities i.e. DrugServ pharmacies and Public Hospitals
2.      Increased Garbage collection by NSWMA (National Solid Waste Management Authority)
3.      Extending the opening hours of SERHA (South Eastern Regional Health Authority) and possibly NERHA (North Eastern Regional Health Authority) to 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
4.      Preparing for the Ebola Virus should it come to Jamaica

She also extolled Jamaicans to assist the drive by the Ministry of Health and the JEEP (Jamaica Emergency Employment Program) Secretariat to do their part to clean up their communities so as to eradicate the Breeding sites for Mosquitoes.

Portmore and National Health Emergency Response – Clean Gullies with JEEP Election money

To this end the Portmore Municipal Council, in partnership with the PHD (Public Health Department) and the NSWMA have scheduled a major cleanup exercise for the Portmore region starting on Wednesday October 15th 2014 as stated in the article “Portmore Municipal Council to Embark on Chikungunya Eradication Clean Up Exercise”, published October 10, 2014 By Portmore Municipal Council, The Jamaica Information Service.

The specific areas targeted for the cleanup in Portmore, St. Catherine are:

1.      Old Braeton
2.      Gregory Park

Apparently Portmore Residents will have to make sure to get rid of all appliances i.e. refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, microwave ovens, etc that can collect water and act as breeding ground for mosquitoes. The NSWMA will be coming around with Garbage Trucks to collect these items and the PHD will be doing Vector Control. Hope that means draining those huge canals as mosquitoes can breed in ANY type of standing water, be it stagnant or potable.

The specific communities within the Old Braeton area being targeted areas follows:

1.      Braeton Meadows
2.      Cressor Lane
3.      Dream Land Drive
4.      Gerbera Ave
5.      McPherson Drive
6.      Oleander Drive
7.      Reid’s Pen

By Thursday, October 16th 2014 and Friday, October 17th 2014 the cleanup will extend to the following areas in the Gregory Park community:

1.      Banga Gully
2.      Christian Pen
3.      Compund
4.      Godly Ave
5.      Gregory Park Proper
6.      Gulf
7.      Hamilton Gardens
8.      Phoenix Vista
9.      Portmore Villas
10.  Queens Ave
11.  Train Line
12.  Walkers Ave
13.  Watson Grove

Good to note that some cleanup work has begun in St. Thomas as well, amusingly led by Minister of Health Dr. Fenton Ferguson as noted in the article “Health minister calls for sustained island-wide community clean-up”, published Saturday, October 11, 2014 6:03 PM, The Jamaica Observer.

I say “amusingly” in light of high level indifference to Garbage collection in that Parish despite the very same encouraging blocked drains and thus creating breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti Mosquito.


Now folks, that's money well spent by the GOJ, even if it means that their JEEP Christmas cleanup money that they'd planned to use to win the Local Government Election will get torpedoed as noted in my blog article entitled “31 infected during Jamaican Chikungunya Virus Epidemic - 113 Deaths in the Caribbean as Jamaica grapples with Chikungunya Virus Outbreak”.

Good sense seems to be spreading. And just in time too as Ebola is on the Horizon. But that's an adventure for another blog article.