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Concerns over leptospirosis

GIS – THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH HAS INTENSIFIED PUBLIC SENSITIZATION EFFORTS FOLLOWING INCREASE IN LEPTOSPIROSIS CASES.

Over the past few weeks a team from the Ministry of Health was deployed in the Castries basin, to identify health gaps and educate market vendors on measures which can be used to curb the spread of leptospirosis.

Health Educator, Nadiege Smith-Lambert, said the ground level initiative proved to be informative and effective.

“What we’re doing is giving them information, and listening to some of their concerns. Given the environment they work in we are trying to see how they can use the resources that they have. So for instance, there is no running water in the marketplace, however they can walk with stored water which can be used to wash their hands properly,” she said.

“We are also speaking to them about proper hygiene practices. Some of our coconut vendors specifically were able to identify some of the problems they face as coconut vendors and we were also able to share with them what they can do to be able to sell good products and bottle their coconut water properly. Also, when it comes to the jelly, we were able to advise how they can sell the jelly to their customers in a proper way. I found this exercise to be very effective.

“The food vendors and the produce vendors participated keenly, asked questions, there were a lot of things that they did not know, so we spoke about things like leptospirosis and a lot of people did not know leptospirosis is not only transmitted by rats but there are other animals which carry the bacteria.”

Special emphasis has been placed on coconut vending as there are concerns that leptospirosis may be transmitted when persons drink directly from contaminated nuts. Health officials are encouraging persons to drink from a straw, wash the coconut, or drink packaged coconut water.

One coconut vendor said limited resources and time constraints are major concerns.

“Normally we try to wash them on mornings, but if the coconuts come straight from the farm it’s hard for you to wash it at that time. But when they come from our homes every morning we ensure we wash it. Also, we need more access to water in the market while selling.”

Another market vendor said, while growing up, she wasn’t aware of leptospirosis. However she complimented the ministry’s team for the initiative, as she found the information disseminated very insightful.

Thus far the Ministry of Health has confirmed 26 cases and 4 deaths due to leptospirosis. As a result, it has intensified public sensitization efforts.

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