Saint Lucia’s response to Zika and arbovirus is expected to be strengthened as the United States Agency for International Development USAID hosted a social and behavior change workshop.

The workshop is aimed at enhancing the capacity of participants to increase the practice of priority healthy behaviors in the community as it relates to vector control.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sharon Belmar-George said because vector-borne diseases are of significant public health importance, there must be the integration of social and behavior interventions in health programs.

“At the Ministry of Health, we need the support of all our partners to get to the level of the community.”

Acting Chief Environmental Health Officer, Parker Ragnanan, said it is important that collective action in the community be undertaken for vector control.

“Community members need to be agents of change in the community and contribute to the integrated vector management approach. For too long we have depended mainly on using chemicals to combat vectors. It’s time for an alternate approach”

A participant of the workshop, Lucy Lubrin-Girard, said the workshop will assist her in making changes in the community.

“I am confident that I will be able to facilitate a better intervention program with all the skills and knowledge I have acquired. I also learned strategies to get maximum community participation and involvement focusing on the stakeholders and the resources required to effect that change and to be able to monitor and evaluate the impact of the intervention on the ground.”

A key element of the workshop was a data collection exercise on vector control in the community of Gros Islet.