The spread of the Chikungunya virus in The Bahamas has prompted authorities to bolster fogging measures and launch an initiative to clear down bushes and debris around shanty towns in an effort to stop and prevent the spread of the mosquito transmitted disease.
The most recent shanty town to be cleared was off Sir Milo Butler Highway, according to Environment and Housing Minster Kenred Dorsett, a shanty town unit has moved in to conduct assessments, along with officials from the Ministry of Works to file notices for those who built without proper authority.
Although demolishing the illegal shanty town remains a concern for the Ministry of Environment, Mr. Dorsett said the health threat due to the virus remains a number one priority at this time.
“The immediate threat to us right now is protecting the residents of New Providence against the continued expansion and outbreak of Chikungunya and so in those areas like that could become possible breeding grounds for the lava,” he said.
“We have move in immediately with heavy equipment, you’ve seen the area cleared out, heavy equipment within the past couple of days removed a lot of bulk waste, refrigerators, any item that can hold standing water, we’ve ramped up our fogging, seven machines on the street right now. Two more to be cleared from the dock and I’m in the process of purchasing two more to make sure that we wrap up our fogging in New Providence. So what you see is not solely the eradication and elimination of shanty towns of which were still committed too but right now it’s about addressing the health risk associated with Chikungunya.”
In regards to the future of the shanty town, Mr. Dorsett said that his ministry will meet with the Ministry of Works to discuss a way forward.
“Once we understand who owns it, whether it’s crown, whether its private, an investigation is currently being conducted with the assistance of Lands And Survey along with the office of the Attorney General and once we figure that out, we would know exactly how to proceed and who we would be in talks with,” he said.
“The legal process is one that’s constantly evolving, I haven’t seen the notices issued by the Ministry of Works because I know that at the end of the day, it’s the Ministry of Works who decides if a structure is demolished at the end of the day, not me, to get to the crux of the matter where you remove facilities, my team will meet tomorrow and we will get copies of the notices and I will know then what time frame the Ministry of Works have placed on the removal of those facilities.”
Meanwhile he added that the Ministry of Social Services is expected to visit the shanty town to conduct assessments as well.
According to the Pan American Health Organisation Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It can cause high fever, join and muscle pain, and headache.
There is no specific treatment for the virus, nor any vaccine to prevent it.
Pending the development of a new vaccine, the only effective means of prevention is to protect individuals against mosquito bites.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen recently revealed that the Ministry of Health was investigating an estimated 60 suspected cases on the island.