Collaborating to End the Chikungunya Scourge in the Region

Collaborating to End the Chikungunya Scourge in the Region

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, March 9, 2015. Chikungunya in the Caribbean: Meeting Today’s Challenge and Preparing for the Future. This was the theme for the Consultation hosted by CARPHA and funded by the European Union which brought together almost 100 health experts from the Caribbean, Latin, South, and North America, and Europe.  The meeting took place from March 3 - 5, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad.

The 3-day consultation provided a diverse agenda and covered a wide range of topics including in-country experiences, laboratory services and communication strategies. Speakers discussed long term impacts of the disease in adults and young persons, global and regional trends and outbreak response. Presentations on innovation and research addressed vaccine development and research, and the role that genetically modified mosquitoes might play in controlling the vector.

Recognizing the need to approach the control of vector borne diseases in a new way, CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. C. James Hospedales during his opening remarks stated “We require a wider and more participatory response to Chikungunya in the Region.” He also stressed the need for the Region to “examine new methods and incorporate technological innovations, and consider supplementary approaches to vector management.” This view was supported by the PAHO/WHO representative Dr. Eldonna Boisson who indicated “We need to step up the fight against chikungunya.”

The Consultation embraced the participatory approach as one day was dedicated to examining ways in which CARPHA can collaborate with development partners, Non-governmental Organizations, Civil Society and Academic Institutions.   Recognizing the socioeconomic effects of chikungunya and other vector-borne diseases on the Region, many of the organizations present indicated their willingness to work with CARPHA to assist in mitigating the impact of these viruses.  As Dr. Babatunde Olowokure, Director, Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control, CARPHA noted, “Change is needed.  Chikungunya and the mosquito vector will not disappear of their own accord. We have to be proactive, and creative, in identifying innovative and sustainable solutions that will protect the people, the tourist economy and the environment.”

The Consultation was a resounding success. Participants praised CARPHA efforts in the fight against Chikungunya in the Region, and for hosting the meeting which allowed sharing of ideas; learning about cases from different regions, and receiving first-hand information about technological advances.

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