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Essential Elements of a Vector Management Program

By Manuel F. Lluberas

This is the first installment of a series of articles aimed at providing our readers with useful information for their vector management programs. More detailed information can be obtained from the editor. Comments and suggestions should be addressed directly to him. We trust this information is useful.

Effective vector management programs are characterized by having several key elements. Some of these include: Effective Program Management & Administration; Adequate Facilities and Equipment; Effective Vector Surveillance; Appropriate Control Activities; Effective Disease Surveillance and Detection; Thorough Public Education; Adequate Interagency Coordination and Planning; Scientific Research; Emergency Preparedness and Planning; and Technical Training and Continuing Education.

We will dedicate part of this newsletter to discussing these elements starting with program's Administration and Management.

One of the key components of an affective and efficient vector management program is the program's Administration and Management. Programs that provide adequate vector control all have a well-defined and discernible structure and contain the following key elements:

  • A. Organization.
    A sound vector management program is founded on clear definition of duties and responsibilities, explicit job descriptions, adequate and reliable funding, and a well-defined chain of command. The program should have a clear organizational diagram with the names of the persons occupying the various positions within the organization and their relation to the other departments. This provides identifies the lines of communication to be followed by members of the organization.
  • B. Planning, Goals, and Objectives.
    The program manager should provide clearly defined goals and objectives to the various departments. This furnishes the various departments with the necessary planning tools to guide the organization in clear and defined direction.
  • C. Technical Qualifications.
    The staff, from the program director to the technicians, should be afforded the necessary training opportunities and tools to be able to maintain a high level of technical proficiency. Regardless of budgetary constraints and limitations, the staff should be knowledgeable about their duties and responsibilities, the latest techniques and trends, the direction the industry is headed, and the key people driving these changes.
  • D. Advisory Board.
    The program should count with the assistance of an advisory board. This board should elected or appointed board and provide advice and recommendations on the program, its policy, and its politics. Members should directors of government agencies and institutions like Public Works, Transportation, Water and Sewer Authorities, and agencies responsible for grounds maintenance, earth moving and environmental management.
  • E. Records.
    The Program should document and maintain a historical record of all activities. This can provide valuable and timely information in the event of disease outbreaks and disasters, be those natural or man-made. The historical record can be used by emergency and relief agencies while the local staff recovers from the effects of the emergency.
  • F. Staffing.
    The Program should employ sufficient personnel to operate smoothly without having to rely on overtime on a regular basis.
  • G. Financial.
    A financial plan is essential. The plan should identify funding sources for ongoing operations, cash sources and flow, and financial responsibility. I well defined financial plan ensures adequate funding for the program's activities and needs.
  • H. Risk Management & Safety
    Vector management programs must establish a thorough risk management and safety program to ensure its members are afforded adequate protection against inadvertent exposure to pesticides. This program should include periodic testing for insecticide contamination markers like also cholinesterase testing. In addition, it must include respiratory and hearing protection devices and tests.
  • I. Legislation.
    Laws and regulations should be established, revised periodically, and enforced. These legal tools should include ordinances, regulations, and laws related to littering, chemical labeling and other activities. This not only provides legal means of protecting the environment, it assists the vector management program achieve their goal while minimizing the reliance on chemical control methods.