The health security of the Caribbean Region is threatened by the burden of Vector Borne Diseases (VBDs). The tropical environment, migration of both human and animals and climate change have influenced the spread and distribution of disease carrying vectors. Due to the interaction of various ecological, biological and social factors, prevention and control measures are extremely complicated and involve multisectoral approaches to produced desired outcomes. The challenge of limited resources has curtailed VBD diagnosis, surveillance, control and research.
Mosquito borne diseases such as Dengue, have spread throughout the Americas, resulting in high levels of morbidity, creating an added burden on health systems in the Region. Dengue epidemics cycle between 3 – 10 years in the Caribbean.
In December 2013, Chikungunya was first detected on the island of Saint-Martin and within one year expanded to all countries in the Caribbean region, with thousands of cases and chronic arthritic sequelae. The main initial epidemic is largely over, but the long-term impact on disability levels in the population is unknown. The Zika outbreak of 2016 was associated with reported cases of unexpected neurological complications, such as microcephaly in newborns and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). Some countries do not have the health system capacity in place to adequately respond to outbreaks such as these and address the possible long-term effects of the associated neurological sequelae.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) within the Caribbean are particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change. Storms of greater frequency and severity have occurred over the last several years within the region with devastating effects. The aftermath of such storms result in flooding, which contributes both to an increase in mosquito borne diseases, as well as, leptospirosis.