Dengue: Emergency action tomorrow

With 80 deaths in six months, Health Minister summons Presidential Task Force as crisis deepens
By Nadia Fazlul Haq

Fears of a mounting dengue epidemic have prompted Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena to call an emergency meeting of a Presidential Task Force tomorrow to identify the immediate causes.

The Task Force is vested with the responsibility of adopting countermeasures to fight the dengue menace. Official statistics yesterday revealed that 80 people have died and more than 14,500 have been affected by the spreading disease in the past six months. Health officials said yesterday the numbers were increasing rapidly.

Twelve secretaries to ministries including Health, Defence and Urban Development, Education, Environment, Housing, Local Government and Public Administration, and Disaster Management are members of the Task Force.

Health Ministry officials said yesterday that the Western Province, particularly Colombo and Gampaha Districts were the worst affected by the dengue epidemic. The Health Ministry’s Dengue Control Unit Director Dr. R. Batuwantudawe blamed some of the local authorities for not following instruction on tackling the dengue menace.

He said the Presidential Secretariat had asked the local authorities to forward a report on the eradication measures they had taken. Most authorities had failed to forward such reports. Some of them had not even appointed committees within their authorities to deal with the serious threats.

A Health Ministry official said yesterday that the lapses on the part of ministries and other agencies would be identified tomorrow for immediate action.

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