Yesterday CTV3 News in Orange Walk and LOVE FM reported that there had been an outbreak of dengue in the Orange Walk district with the appearance of 16 confirmed cases. They got that information from Felipe Magana the Malaria evaluator for the Orange Walk Department of Public Health. But by the end of the day the Ministry of Health had stepped in to rebut that claim. Today we spoke with Kim Bautista, the Vector Control Chief of Operation in the Ministry of Health who claims that the numbers this year are actually down.
Kim Bautista - Vector Control Chief of Operation
"If you look at the number of clinical cases which he spoke of coming out of that region in the entire year - it cannot be considered an outbreak. This year if you look at the entire country - it's way below the normal, even if you look in terms of the testing that is being done by the lab - the testing has increased tremendously and what we are seeing is less than 5% of the cases that are being tested within our health facilities as positive. So compare to the regional situation that are seeing, I believe that we're in good stance right now. What we have done, I believe it was 2011, because the Vector Control Staff is so small - countrywide we only have 40 field staff - what we do is we hire seasonal spray men and they join forces with us and they go out to treat even drains where we see mosquitoes breeding in now. We do premises inspection, we increase the fogging and so what we try to do at this time of the year is increase our work force and target certain hot spots throughout the country. As it is right now we have these persons employed in the Cayo district and we also have a team employed here in Belize City as well. What we are doing is our usual ULV spraying countrywide and so far it has been more to give the public some relief in terms of nuisance mosquitoes."
We note that while Bautista backpedalled from informed comments given by local health officials independently to both CTV-3 and LOVE FM in Orange Walk – another Ministry of Health Official also appeared on a talk show in Orange Walk and spoke about a high number of cases in Trial Farm as well. Regrettably, for the Ministry of Health, which has a dubious record of public disclosure, we’ll have to stand with the skeptics on this one, and await the production of verifiable figures – which we requested but did not receive today.