Tag Archives: Dr. Samuel Rawlins

New Integrated Vector Management manual introduced in St. Kitts & Nevis

St. Kitts & Nevis flag

Environmental Health Officers are among a batch of Public Health workers from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis to be familiarised with a manual on Integrated Vector Management (IVM).  The manual was developed by Dr. Samuel Rawlins, Nobel Laureate and eminent Caribbean emeritus scientist with the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Dr. Rawlins, himself a native of St. Kitts, ran a three-day workshop for the health workers from Monday, November 07  2011 in Charlestown, Nevis.  The workers modified and changed the generic manual Dr. Rawlins created for the East Caribbean region to suit the specific needs of the Federation.

The manual was the culmination of a series of consultations Dr. Rawlins had with Ministries of Health of member states.  It has seven modules that deal with mosquito vectors and mosquito-borne diseases of importance in the Eastern Caribbean; integrated vector management (control) measures and their application to Dengue Fever vectors and other common vectors in the Eastern Caribbean countries; the work of vector control operators; and issues of discipline/work etiquette.  Other selected arthropods and reservoirs of public health importance are also covered in the manual.  

So far, Dr. Rawlins has facilitated similar workshops in the islands of Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Antigua and Barbuda.

Dr. Samuel Rawlins earned a Nobel Prize in 2007 for his expert work with the Joint Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

Source: Caribbean News Now!

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Woodshed Environment Coalition blog health: 2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 42,000 times in 2010.   If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

 

In 2010, there were 40 new Page posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 234 posts.  (Many more posts published on Pages other than the Front Page were not counted in this report.)  There were 29 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb.  That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was September 13th with 346 views.  The most popular post that day was Caribbean scientist Dr. Samuel Rawlins helps UN win Nobel Peace Prize.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were search.conduit.com, en.wordpress.com, righthealth.com, search-results.com, and search.aol.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for dengue fever, dengue, caribbean scientist, can mosquitoes bite through clothes, and dengue mosquito.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Caribbean scientist Dr. Samuel Rawlins helps UN win Nobel Peace Prize January 2008
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2

‘Dengue Fever is Dangerous’ slideshow v.1.2 is here… May 2009
4 comments

3

Can mosquitoes bite you through your clothes? May 2008
4 comments

4

Pakistan Dengue Poster August 2008
4 comments

5

Dengue Tutorial: History, Current Trends, Future Outlook February 2008
1 comment

Malaria in resurgence in the Caribbean, experts say

There are growing fears that Malaria is in resurgence in the Caribbean.  Countries in the region have been importing cases since the disease was eradicated most everywhere in the 1960’s, Haiti being the one exception.  However, local transmission is now taking place again as seen most recently in the Jamaica outbreak of two years ago and to a lesser extent in the Bahamas before that.

Indeed, the re-emergence of Malaria started in earnest in the 1970’s.  To that extent, it is endemic in Guyana, Suriname and Belize today.  Dr. Samuel Rawlins, retired Director of the Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC), is one of a number of Caribbean scientists who believes that the Malaria vector is still endemic all over the Caribbean thus posing a real threat to health.

In an article published in the West Indian Medical Journal of November 2008 (West Indian med. j. v.57 n.5 Mona nov. 2008), JP Figueroa of the Department of Community Health and Psychiatry of The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, sorts out the positions of Rawlins and others and distills the risk factors that facilitate the re-introduction of endemic Malaria to the region to an “…increase in travel by Caribbean nationals to countries with endemic malaria and an increase in the number of visitors from these countries to the Caribbean…(and) limited vector control programmes and specific expertise in relation to malaria…”

Figueroa also explains that the Malaria vector itself, the Anopheles mosquito, has adapted its breeding habits to take advantage of the new sites provided them by unplanned urbanization.

Part of this threat comes from the island of Haiti whose people are known to legally migrate to other Caribbean countries in search of economic opportunities while others traverse the region conducting trade in illegal goods with neighbours Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, for example.

In addressing this development, Figueroa places some of the responsibility at the doorstep of clinicians whom he says must exercise vigilance in properly diagnosing and testing for Malaria among patients presenting with high fever. With that in mind, it is of concern too that anti-malarial drugs like chloroquine are ineffective against Malaria in Guyana, Suriname and Panama.

Figueroa, therefore, recommends that more Caribbean countries take the threat of re-emerging Malaria more seriously and in so doing seek to access available funding for their Anti-Malaria campaigns from the Global Fund to fight Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis like Haiti, Guyana and Suriname have done. (Source: The need to strengthen malaria control in the Caribbean in the era of HIV/AIDS)

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Global temperature rise could increase Dengue transmission

It should no longer be news that Dengue Fever is spreading more rapidly than ever before in the region and that there is a very good chance that the number of infections for 2008 will top the record set a year ago for the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas.  The reason for this is not so clear.  Or is it? 

Not to diminish the role that human beings play in enabling the Dengue mosquito to thrive, it would, however, be true to say that scientific evidence is mounting on the side of climate change as the best explanation for this phenomenon.   

Caribbean scientists Dr. Dave Chadee of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, Professor Anthony Chen of UWI’s Mona Campus, Jamaica and Dr. Samuel Rawlins, retired Director of the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC), Trinidad have added to the body of knowledge on the subject with the publication of a book entitled ‘Climate Change Impact on Dengue: The Caribbean Experience.’ 

Dr. John Agard, Professor of Marine and Environmental Studies at the St. Augustine Campus, referenced that book when speaking during a forum on ‘Climate Change and the Caribbean, a clear and present danger’ held at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), St. Augustine on Thursday, December 04, 2008. 

Dr. Agard explained that because “the mosquito life cycle now is going faster because of the slightly increased temperature…” and that mosquito infestations tend to persist after the traditional rainy season due to sporadic rainfall during the dry season, Dengue epidemics are occurring with increased frequency. (Source: trinidadexpress.com) 

 

 

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UN reports say Dengue infections to triple this century

Instrumental Temperature Record.png
Global mean surface temperature anomaly 1850 to 2007 relative to 1961–1990 (wikipedia.com) 
Climate change has been a contentious issue for some time now.  Environmentalists, scientists and governments alike have taken note of the ongoing discourse and have responded in a myriad of ways.  Some are in complete denial that global warming is taking place at all; others believe that it is, but do not ascribe to the far-reaching consequences – flooding, desertification, more intense storms, the spread of infectious diseases into an ever-expanding ‘tropical’ region; still others, while remaining wary about the whole thing, and are at least willing to explore and pursue a better understanding of the phenomenon and in so doing offer guidance in mitigating the perceived threats.  The United Nations has been at the center of this debate.  

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The UN initiated the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which in October 2007 won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in highlighting the changes in weather patterns brought about by the pollution of the natural environment by the human species.  And then in December of last year, the government of Indonesia hosted the UN’s climate conference in Bali to mull over the science related to adaptations to climate change in the Sudan and China, flood-prone cities in Argentina and Uruguay, and most important to us in the Caribbean region, the risk that Dengue Fever has posed to our islands.

University of West the Indies (UWI) Mona Professor Anthony Chen from Jamaica along with two other Caribbean scientists includingDr. Sam Rawlins were members of the IPCC.  Professor Anthony Chen, for his part, extrapolated the findings of the committee to concur with epidemiological researchers that there could be a “two-degree rise in temperature (that) could lead to a threefold increase in the transmission of Dengue Fever.

Contextually, average global air temperature near the Earth’s surface rose 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the hundred years ending in 2005. (wikipedia.org)  The IPCC panel, in its summary of climate model projections have taken the position that average surface temperatures will rise by another 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during this century alone – by the 2080’s to be precise.  This is well above the 2°C threshold needed to triple Dengue infections.

And taking into account that Dengue outbreaks are already increasing at an alarming rate in our part of the world and the fact that more severe outbreaks will occur in our lifetime as mosquito density increases in tandem with dryer conditions, the future for Vector Control will becoming exceedingly challenging.

 Narrowing down his argument to Jamaica alone, Chen explained the likely scenario to the Jamaica Observer thus: “…what it means is that the convective areas would become more active and that pulls all the moisture from us so we will become dryer whereas other areas will become wetter.  The sea level rise – it doesn’t appear to be much at 20-50 centimetres over 100 years – but that could lead to saline intrusion…”  This speaks to the salting of ground water supplies, which in turn would bring about serious water shortages – as if there are no water woes in the Caribbean already.  At any rate, water storage will become even more prevalent, as bad as it is already in the British Virgin Islands and the rest of the Leewards.  It is the very storage of fresh water in artificial containers, whether wanted or not, that is single-handedly responsible for the proliferation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the carrier of Dengue Fever.

Back in Bali, Indonesia, early December 2007, the Assessments of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change, AIACC, presented their five year report to the UN conference.  The report, covering 24 case studies, was developed in collaboration with the UN’s IPCC with a mandate to advance scientific understanding of climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options in developing countries.

One AIACC study determined that in the Caribbean, cases of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) have climbed from a few hundred a year in the 1980’s to as many as 8,000 a year since the early 1990s.  Sadly, rising cases of Dengue could impact negatively on the economically-important, though fragile, tourism industry that is a budgetary pillar of all Caribbean countries.

The AIACC study, in recapping the rationale that climate change could bring with it increased rainfall in places and desertification in others, found that pupae of the Dengue-carrying mosquito favour breeding in 40 gallon drums commonly used for outside water storage wherever pipe-borne water has not reached squatter settlements and poor households.  There is no shortage of either of these demographics in the Caribbean.

The Coalition is one with the AIACC in recommending that a prime adaptation strategy to combat climate change would be for us as vulnerable communities to become educated about Dengue Fever, its mode of transmission and the measures by which to eliminate mosquito breeding places.

Climate change is upon and there is no way around it.

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Previous Post:  Caribbean scientist Dr. Samuel Rawlins helps UN win Nobel Peace Prize

Caribbean scientist Dr. Samuel Rawlins helps UN win Nobel Peace Prize

 
Dr. Samuel Rawlins

The Caribbean experienced one of the worst outbreaks of Dengue Fever ever in 2007.  Given that the Aedes aegypti mosquito is ever-present in our region and that Dengue is endemic throughout, it is a wonder that there have not been more regular outbreaks of the disease region-wide.  The question to be asked, then, is why all of a sudden?  There is only one clear answer to this: Climate Change.

Casual observation over the past decade would have indicated that climate patterns have been indeed changing so this should not be at all surprising.  One of the harsh manifestations of that has been more frequent hurricanes and tropical storms, increased rainfall and severe flooding events of hitherto unforeseen proportions.

The rainy season too has seemingly gotten longer, so much so that November 30 no longer marks the end of the Atlantic Hurricane season for a region wary about the potential for infrastructural collapse if guards are let down and the oddest of Hurricanes happens to strike in December.  

Regardless, all of the scientific pointers lead straight to Climate Change.  The globe is simply warming too fast!  And humans are the cause of this.  The simple truth is that even a one degree increase in temperatures in the Caribbean can wreak havoc.  Thus, “(we) need to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases,” Dr. Samuel Rawlins, Professor Emeritus at the Caribbean Research and Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) told the Trinidad Express.

There may be a debate as regards the extent of Global Warming, but there can be no issue with the simple fact the earth’s atmosphere is being filled up with carbon emissions that are destroying the ozone layer and subjecting mankind to heat waves that are taking lives and rising sea levels that threaten to reclaim low-lying lands, even entire islands.  As these things to come to pass, the tourism product of already vulnerable Third World economies are being adversely affected.

Dr. Samuel Rawlins, was one of a group of renowned scientists who has been working towards a consensus understanding of the phenomenon of climate change.  Dr. Rawlins and University of the West Indies (UWI) professor John Agard were co-opted by senior climate scientist Dr. Roger Pulwarty who with two other Caribbean scientists contributed to the 2007 report of the United Nations’ Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that helped the institution win a Nobel Peace Prize.  That prize was shared in December with former United States Vice President Al Gore, one of the world’s leading advocates for environmental reforms to stem the tide of global warming.

To me, the (Nobel) prize means that the issue of climate change has gotten more of the public focus and more people are aware that climate change is taking place and that all of us can do something to stop it,” Dr. Rawlins told the Express in a phone interview on Tuesday, October 16, 2007.

Dr. Rawlins, a Kittitian, who is recently retired as the Director of the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) in Trinidad after a 20-year career, is a specialist in the study of insect vectors of disease.  Thus, his contribution to the UN report, which was two years in the making, focused on public health issues associated with climate change.  “Climate change affects us all in a very real way.  The Caribbean countries are more vulnerable than larger countries, and if we don’t move very quickly to undo the damage that is being done it will affect the coming generations of our people,” he said.

For those persons who doubt the effect of climate change on vector proliferation and disease transmission, Dr. Rawlins offers up a recent study on climate change in the Caribbean.  That study demonstrated that even climate variations, that is less severe manifestations of a climate change, have increased the prevalence of not only Dengue Fever and Malaria, but probably other vector-borne diseases as well.  “The UN has already recognised that 150,000 people die each year due to the effects of climate change,” Rawlins said.

If 2007 is anything to go by, things can only get worse.  How can it not worsen when countries in the European Union and the United States would like developing and non-industrialised countries like ours to share the burden of reducing greenhouse gases?  That is a bitter pill that regional governments are not prepared to swallow.

 

Sam Rawlins is an emeritus Scientist (entomologist/parasitologist).  Dr. Rawlins recently retired from the CAREC.  Prior to this he was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Microbiology at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus in Jamaica. His area of specialty has been the surveillance and control of vector-borne diseases – a subject on which he has published quite extensively.  In the last few years, he has taken an interest in the area of climate change and variability impacting on arthropod vectors and on the diseases which they transmit.  Dr Rawlins is a graduate of London University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and of the University of the West Indies.