University of West Indies stepping up Zika eradication with Regional Task Force

Posted: Sunday, March 6, 2016. 12:46 p.m. CST

Zika VirusBy Aaron Humes: The University of the West Indies (UWI) is not shunning from the challenge of Zika, but taking charge and addressing this disease by launching a new resource – the UWI Regional Task Force on Zika.

Pro-Vice Chancellor, Graduate Studies and Research, University of the West Indies, Professor Dale Webber deemed the formation of the UWI Regional Task Force on Zika as “timely in its development” because “the Zika virus disease is now considered an emerging infectious disease… 15 Caribbean countries have confirmed ongoing transmissions of Zika, the problem is here.”

And he asserted that the Zika virus poses a growing threat to the Caribbean region.

The Pro Vice Chancellor assured that the members of the Task Force will not go it alone. He said comprising experts, they will leverage the University’s expertise and coordinate efforts with regional governments, health ministries and other agencies to combat the virus.

Explaining how the Task Force is set to operate, Webber told the audience gathered at Hilton Barbados, “The approach of the regional task force is strategic and involves handling the virus from four vantage points.”

These are, elimination of breeding sites; collaboration with our partners, national and regional, to pool resources research, analyse and examine the Zika outbreak associated with the health complications in the Caribbean; funding to make the effort sustainable, and using communication to ensure that the info about the Zika virus and its effects are disseminated to the Caribbean public via any platform.

“To this end, a regional observatory will be established which will serve as a knowledge bank for researchers, government agencies, schools, health facilities and members of the general public,” Webber disclosed.

The Chair of the UWI Regional Task Force on Zika is the Deputy Principal of UWI Cave Hill campus, Professor Clive Landis.

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