June 17, 2016 By Memunatu Bangura
The Deputy Minister 1 of Health and Sanitation, Madam Madina Rahman, has reiterated that Sierra Leone has formulated a Zika virus preparedness and response plan.
She was speaking to journalists at the weekly government press briefing at the Ministry of Information and Communication’s conference room at Youyi building in Freetown.
Madam Rahman explained that the Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito from the ‘Aedes genus’ and mainly ‘Aedesaegypti’ in tropical regions, adding that it is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
She told newsmen that a disease linked to Zika virus in Latin America poses a global public health emergency declaration that required united response, noting that experts are worried over the spread of the virus with devastating consequences, as the disease could spread across all of South America.
As part of the preparedness activities, the deputy minister stated that her ministry has reduced vector population through indoor residual spraying (IRS); increase the utilisation of insecticide treated bed nets for pregnant women and nationwide campaign to reduce vector population, strengthen port health service, resource mobilisation, capacity building and socialisation, among others, as a way of raising awareness on ‘case definition’ of Zika disease.
She noted that the health ministry has also set up a monitoring and evaluation system to effectively surveillance environmental sanitation, contact tracing and case management and to look at standards in laboratories in the country.
She cautioned Sierra Leoneans to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, use insect repellents, always sleep under treated mosquito bed net, take steps to control mosquitoes in and outside homes, prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or abstinence, especially during pregnancy.