The Ministry of Health has budgeted over half-a-billion dollars to combat the Zika Virus.

The money will be spent to implement a series of priority programmes.

The bulk of the funds, some $300-million, is for vector control, which includes spraying and paying temporary community workers.

One hundred million dollars is budgeted for public health education, including advertising.

There’s also $82-million earmarked to buy 15 double cab pickups to undertake fogging in each parish.

In addition, the Ministry is budgeting $5-million for surveillance of the disease, $15-million for clinical management, another $15-million to strengthen the capacity of the island’s laboratories and $10-million for training.

The budget is contained in a brief prepared for Health Minister Horace Dalley by outgoing Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marion Bullock Ducasse.

The Ministry of Health in Barbados is awaiting the results of 27 blood samples that were sent to the Trinidad based Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA, to be tested for the Zika virus.

Following the confirmation of three cases of the virus earlier this month, Barbadian health officials have heightened their monitoring of the disease.

It’s encouraging members of the public to take the necessary precautions.

Barbadians have been urged to adhere to protective measures, to reduce their chances of being bitten by mosquitoes.

The country’s health ministry says it’s also intensifying the vector control programme through fogging of high risk areas for mosquito breeding sites.

Three to four million people could be infected with Zika in the Americas this year.

That’s the prediction from the World Health Organization, WHO.

Most of those infected, will not develop symptoms, but the infection has been linked to brain defects in babies.

The Director General of the WHO, Dr Margaret Chan says Zika has gone from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions.

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Dr. Chan says she has established a Zika emergency team to respond to what she calls the explosive spread of the virus.

That team is due to meet on Monday to decide whether Zika should be treated as a global emergency.

The last time an international emergency was declared was for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa which has killed more than 11,000 people.

Zika was first detected in Uganda in 1947, but has never caused an outbreak on this scale.

Brazil reported the first cases of Zika in South America in May 2015.