FIJI: THREAT OF DENGUE AND ZIKA IN COMING DAYS IS REAL

Plan expert available for interview

Chris Hagarty, Senior Health Program Manager at Plan International Australia is available for interviews. 
Please contact Clare Price on 0490 252 743 / clare.price@plan.org.au  to arrange. 

Mr Hagarty has been supporting health and development programs in the Pacific for over 10 years.  Most recently, he worked on Vanuatu’s Cyclone Pam response, where he supported the Vanuatu Ministry of Health to coordinate interventions.  He has also responded to mosquito-borne dengue and chikungunya disease outbreaks in post-Tsunami Maldives.

Chris Hagarty said “the threat of Dengue and Zika in the coming days in Fiji is real. In locations where vector-borne viruses are on the rise, or endemic, the period immediately following a disaster of this scale can be a particularly dangerous one. 

“Communities coping with the aftermath of Cyclone Winston need to know how to protect themselves from day-time biting Aedes mosquitoes. This can be done by covering arms and legs, using repellent with appropriate levels of DEET, sleeping under bed nets during the daytime (particularly babies, infants and pregnant women) and cleaning-up and removing water reservoirs around homes, communities and shelters.

“Outbreaks of chikungunya and dengue in many of the Cyclone Winston-affected areas of Fiji have the potential to mirror similar disease outbreaks witnessed after disasters such as Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu.”

According Chris Hagarty, people are most at risk of Dengue and Zika if they:
- do not have homes, or their homes are not secure against mosquitoes,
- are close to lateral water from excessive rain, as this is an excellent reservoir for vectors (in this case, the Aedes mosquitoes) to breed,
- are outside a lot, cleaning-up and getting their lives together – they are a target for day-time biting vectors,
- babies and pregnant women who might normally sleep under nets during the day, and
- are staying in communal, crowded temporary or semi-temporary shelters, and this makes it easy for the vectors to move from one host to another (for the virus to spread).
Editors’ notes:
Plan International Australia is working closely with our in-country Fiji partners - Partners in Community Development Fiji (PCDF) in Suva and the Tonga Community Development Trust (TCDF) – to implement a range of programs, including health, restoring livelihoods and supporting affected families with immediate needs in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston. Information about Plan’s emergency appeal can be found here: https://www.plan.org.au/

Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 79 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Clare Price, Media Relations Manager, 0490 252 743