Dengue eradication programme hampered by uncollected garbage


With the beginning of the National Dengue month from June 25 to July 24, Health authorities have commenced dengue eradication programmes island-wide, but failure to collect garbage by local bodies, have led to the breeding of mosquitoes.
“This is the main concern of Health authorities and the public who are extremely worried when it comes to removal of garbage. It is the responsibility of local governments in order to control the dengue menace,” said Health Ministry Secretary Dr Ravindra Ruberu, in an interview with the Sunday Times.

He said local governments should take measures to remove garbage, especially from open dumps where discarded containers hold water even during intermittent rains.According to him, this was discussed at the Presidential Task Force emergency meeting where it was suggested to provide financial allocations for garbage removal and hiring more manpower for it.

Dengue fever has claimed close to 80 lives this year, and about 15,000 cases, according to data provided by State hospitals. The number is believed to be even higher, as cases reported to private hospitals are not included in the Health Ministry data.
Dr. Ruberu said the condition is serious in the Western province where 50% of the total number of cases is reported. Colombo district leads with 27 deaths and 3,178 cases, followed by Gampaha district with 14 deaths and 2,207 cases.
Following a request by the Health Ministry, this week, the Defence Ministry deployed hundreds of military personnel island-wide to clear identified mosquito breeding places, garbage dumps, abandoned lands and blocked drains, and assist Health officers in dengue control programmes.

The Health Ministry also has made it compulsory for all schools to allocate one hour every Friday to clean up their surrounding environments. Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) has launched campaigns to raise awareness among the public on the dengue epidemic. The Red Cross is also deploying volunteers to mosquito prone areas and to launch cleaning campaigns. According to the Mosquito Breeding Prevention Act, a person responsible for maintaining mosquito breeding grounds, is liable to a fine of Rs 50,000, and/or six-months imprisonment.

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