Koror, Palau – Within the last decade, the Republic of Palau has experienced many diseases outbreaks transmitted by pest animals. In efforts to prevent and respond to diseases like leptospirosis, dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya, the Palau-Division of Environmental Health (DEH) has relied on pesticides to control rats and mosquitoes. To leverage the conservation of Palau's fragile ecosystem and the health of Palauan citizens and visitors, the DEH has partnered with the Environmental Quality Protection Board (EQPB), the United States Department of Defense (DOD) through Task Force Koa Moana, and the Pacific Island Health Officers' Association (PIHOA) to provide a week-long pesticide application seminar.
As part of Task Force Koa Moana, LT Westen Archibald, Medical Entomologist for the US Navy, led a week-long seminar on pesticide applications for eleven DEH staff. These seminars set a high standard for safe pesticide use for the worker, the public, and the environment. During the first two days, DEH studied core pesticide knowledge to learn how to recognize pests, understand pesticide labels, and minimize risks to the environment, applicators, and people. In the remaining days, DEH studied public health pest management and learned how to use Integrated Pest Management practices to control fleas, cockroaches, ticks and mites, mosquitoes, rodents, ants, and other pests.
Calvin Johnes, Palau DEH Chief, said, "Integrated Pest Management is an integral tool and has always been a forefront method in our line of work against vector-borne diseases in Palau and may further enhance with Pesticides application when needed."
After the seminars, participants received a certificate of participation from the Navy Entomologist and prepared to take the EQPB's Industrial, Structural, Institutional, & Health-Related Pest Control test. All eleven DEH staff took and met all requirements for the EQPB exam and received an EQPB license to apply pesticide for public health management. Participation in the seminar and licensure through the EQPB has made the Palau DEH one of the first countries in the Pacific to have its personnel trained and certified to use pesticides during a mosquito-borne disease outbreak.
"With this training seminar, my team was able to get their Pesticide License from EQPB and to enable DEH to administer best and safe chemical usage for dengue outbreak as well as minimize the impact to our environment," added Johnes.
PIHOA Regional Medical Entomologist, Dr. Limb Hapairai, with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will continue to provide technical assistance building on the pesticide application seminars. Through a combination of hands-on and remote training, DEH is implementing Integrated Pest Management pest surveillance, pesticide resistance testing, and best practices in pesticide applications to improve Palau's outbreak readiness prevention and response plans.