to beat dengue threat
With the ranks of officialdom being preoccupied with power games,
and the nation and her people enthralled by an over-dose of politics,
a silent killer is on the prowl, striking terror in homes around
the country. We know and hear of so many cases; an infant here,
a bright young student in another area, elsewhere an older man or
stories are tragic and heartbreaking. Days of continuous fever,
followed by hospitalization, a battery of blood tests and then,
sometimes, the final death-blow. The fact that dengue is preventable,
that simple measures could have preempted the tragedy, makes these
deaths doubly difficult to accept.
rains have come and gone but the dreaded dengue which has been hitting
the headlines for the past three to four months causing fear and
panic among the public, particularly among parents of young children
has stayed with us.
the last count, the dengue toll was 38 lives with 5,800 receiving
treatment for the disease. The problem is particularly acute in
urban areas, Colombo, Gampaha, Kandy and Kurunegala being the worst
hit. And though the dengue outbreak has been recorded every year,
the figures this year show a marked increase. Doctors fear that
it is now just short of an epidemic.
both state and private are overflowing with suspected dengue victims
and are hard pressed to cope. Why hasn't the government declared
this outbreak of dengue an epidemic? Is it because drastic control
measures would then have to be put in place and this would be a
further drain on the government coffers? Or is it that life is considered
cheap in this part of the world, and the government's attention
is primarily to survive in office, and to hell with what they do
senior consultant surgeon at the National Hospital, Dr. M.M. Janapriya
highlights this very issue in our columns this week (see Plus page
10), and says that as long as this current outbreak of the disease
is not officially declared an epidemic, there is no need for the
central health authorities or the Epidemiological Department of
the Ministry of Health to do anything despite the remorseless progression
of the epidemic. The official inaction may be because these measures
cost money, he surmises.
dengue needs to be fought and fought on all fronts is without question.
Its devastating toll on human lives and the suffering of so many
must not be allowed to continue. The answer may lie in greater measures
of prevention. Then the government may, in fact, be able to save
not only lives but also some of the money it now requires to treat
dengue victims in intensive care units.
a country that has been grappling with dengue for several years
now, the question being asked is why have we not been able to put
into action a solid preventive plan?
authorities have been stressing the importance of keeping one's
environs clean to prevent the spread of the dengue mosquito. They
have gone on the offensive, saying that householders, in many cases
flat dwellers and eating houses, are largely to blame for their
apathy. Starting today to July 3 has been designated Dengue Control
Week by the Colombo Municipality.
of the other local authorities? While public clean-up campaigns
are no doubt needed, the authorities islandwide should be going
a step further, to ensure that their services function efficiently.
Most urban dwellers have a huge problem in disposing of their garbage.
Drains in public areas are also not just an eyesore but a health
hazard as well. Public complaints about blocked drains in their
neighbourhoods for instance, do not elicit a quick response from
the authorities. Hot-lines given don't even get answered..
is now endemic in this country and can no longer be seen as a threat
only during the monsoon season. What we need then is a concerted
countrywide campaign by all local bodies to eradicate this mosquito.
Regular fogging campaigns, proper garbage disposal and cleaning
of drains should be carried out throughout the year and not only
when the alarm is raised about another dengue epidemic.
would be a good place to start. If children were taught from a very
early age the importance of nudging the elders in keeping their
environs clean, we would not be facing the problems we have today.
the dengue death toll mounts, the need of the hour surely is total
focus by even a Presidential Task Force of medical authorities and
public health officials, and the police that could swiftly and efficiently
co-ordinate an islandwide effort to battle dengue and equally importantly
tackle the problem long-term. Sri Lanka has been hailed a model
on many fronts in the health sector, our population control, immunization
programmes, etc being widely commended. Dengue could well be another
success story if the authorities mobilize all their resources at
their disposal. The government needs to heed the public's cry for