PESTICIDE APPLICATOR TRAINING FOR HEALTH OFFICIALS
Sixteen health inspectors are undergoing a workshop, which aims to enhance Fiji’s National Vector Control Unit’s (NVCU) capacity to respond to vector-borne disease epidemics.
The two-week long training program is being facilitated by representatives of the US Navy’s Environmental Preventive Medicine Unit Six (NEPMU-6), who are based out of Hawaii, and is part of an ongoing subject matter expert exchange plan.
Chief Health Inspector, Mr Dip Chand said it is the first time the US Navy is playing an instrumental role as facilitators for training, which is designed and contextualized to address health issues that are vector borne.
“The workshop can contribute positively in enhancing the Pesticide Act by introducing mechanisms which will screen potential pest control companies that wish to operate in Fiji,” Mr Chand said.
“A cross-sectoral and holistic approach needs to be adopted for the successful implementation of pesticide application and the ministry welcomes the initiative to open dialogue with tertiary institutions that would like to introduce this as a core unit in their curriculum.”
US Navy Lieutenant Dr James Harwood said the team’s core focus would be on pesticide application techniques, pesticide applicator safety and mosquito identification training.
“Fiji is the hub of the Pacific, and is exposed to people coming in from places where malaria occurs, so we will also discuss ways of trapping these mosquitoes and methods used for controlling so that we can build the capacity to respond to those threats,” Dr Harwood said.
“We can’t have these individuals suffering from pesticide when they are ones being relied on to protect us from dengue, chikungunya and other potential virus that could come in”.
Once established, this program has the potential to serve as a regional center of excellence and the training program could be leveraged for other Pacific Island nations.