Gabbard Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Dengue, Zika
Representative Tulsi Gabbard hosted a roundtable with local, national, and international experts in both dengue fever and zika virus research, readiness, and response on Thursday.
The session was held at the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine.
During the roundtable, experts discussed accurate, up-to-date information on the diseases, the current Big Island outbreak, and steps necessary immediately and long term to protect people in Hawai’i, as well as the economy.
“The level of experience and expertise that gathered this morning was great, as we discussed the current situation and next steps in the fight against mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and the Zika virus,” said Representative Gabbard, who represents the Big Island as part of her district. “The meeting was productive, and the information presented was candid and constructive. As we move forward, it’s important that these experts and their resources are tapped into as Hawaiʻi builds and executes its strategy to deal with the outbreak of dengue and the prevention of Zika. We don’t have time to sit around and wait—too much time has already been lost. A coordinated, aggressive response to eradicate these disease-laden mosquitoes and their breeding areas must occur now.”
Roundtable participants included experts with the JABSOM, Department of Tropical Medicine, Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, Global Strategies International Medical Corps, Department of Emergency Medicine, Kona Community Hospital, and the Dengue Vaccine Initiative from Seoul, South Korea.
Also on Thursday, Representative Gabbard toured the JABSOM Tropical Medicine Research Laboratory, where dengue is studied.
On Wednesday, Representative Gabbard joined the Legislature’s Big Island Caucus members. Together, they shared the challenges and frustrations expressed by their constituents, shared ideas on how to better serve residents, and how to ensure resources are getting to where they are needed. Solutions to improve vector response, access dengue testing, and timeliness of results were also items discussed.