Academy for Educational Development, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), PAHO/WHO Caribbean Epidemiology Centre, Ministry of Health, Insect Vector Control Division, Washington, District of Columbia
The priorities of public health planners are often at variance with the community's own environmental sanitation priorities and perspectives. Public opinion about individual, collective, and governmental responsibilities in addressing these issues and priorities is of particular importance when designing community-based programs. In a study conducted in Trinidad and Tobago on knowledge, attitudes, and practice regarding dengue, its prevention and control, a high level of awareness about dengue and its etiology was evident, but there was poor understanding of the symptoms and hence little concern about the health risks associated with it. The most important household pest problem identified by the respondents was related to mosquito nuisance, particularly from night-biting mosquitoes. Rodents were also a major concern perceived as being responsible for economic losses, ruined food, and a health hazard. Unreliable water supply, a factor associated with Aedes aegypti abundance, was an environmental sanitation issue of major importance to householders in rural areas. No correlation was found between knowledge of dengue and levels of Ae. aegypti abundance as measured by larval surveys of the respondents' premises. The study gave a clear indication of the need for broad-based environmental sanitation strategies when planning community-based vector control initiatives for the prevention and control of dengue in Trinidad and Tobago.