From clearing garbage on time, increasing penalties to garbage dumpers, increasing hospital facilities for dengue patients to holding municipal elections to urging the public to help the government in the anti-dengue drive. Like overflowing government and private hospitals with dengue patients, dozens of Sri Lankans responded to a joint Business Times –Research Consultancy Bureau (BT-RCB) [...]

Business Times

Overflowing comments as Sri Lankan citizens strongly express themselves over dengue outbreak


Dengue eradication programme.

From clearing garbage on time, increasing penalties to garbage dumpers, increasing hospital facilities for dengue patients to holding municipal elections to urging the public to help the government in the anti-dengue drive.

Like overflowing government and private hospitals with dengue patients, dozens of Sri Lankans responded to a joint Business Times –Research Consultancy Bureau (BT-RCB) poll to examine issues pertaining to the dengue epidemic and its impact on society, with comments overflowing through street interviews and on email.

The joint polls, resuming after a long break this past few months, appeared to have touched a chord amongst over 1000 respondents polled, as amidst anger and frustration over the government’s handling of the crisis, there was also sympathy and soul-searching within,with people looking in the mirror and blaming themselves (meaning insensitive people who dump garbage on roadsides or don’t keep their home environment clean).

The poll was conducted on the street (RCB in Colombo and Galle) and on email (BT). Below is a synopsis of the comments received:

From the BT emails:

  •  All governments have failed to manage this epidemic in an effective way. Politicians and officials give no correct leadership and no commitment
  •  By not finding a permanent solution to the garbage problem, the Government is exacerbating the dengue epidemic. Uncleaned drains, canals, waterways are also causes for the epidemic.
  •  Municipalities have failed to keep the environment clean. This may also be due to lack of resources/manpower, etc.
  •  There are not enough doctors to tackle the epidemic. Ratio is a major issue. Overall, the authorities say we need to have 25,000 doctors but we have only 17,000 doctors. So obviously there is a shortage in every area.
  •  Hospitals are stretched to its limits with dengue patients.
  •  People should be blamed for not keeping their environment clean. If every individual takes responsibility for his or her own vicinity this epidemic would not have grown to this extent.
  •  The tug of war between the central government and provincial administrations on the garbage disposal has given rise to this situation. There is a blame game going on without any one party taking the responsibility. Above all, having ‘No policy & plan’ towards waste management in the country, the citizenry cannot expect a proper system in place at least in the foreseeable future.
  •  Local authorities, road authorities and Land Reclamation authorities (SLLRDC) also “create” mosquito breeding places. Deep dug drains at roadsides, bottom and sides concreted canals with poor gradients, providing permits to construct in low-lying marshy areas blocking drainage, eliminating “wetland natural environs” destroying “natural/ecological balancing” of mosquito breeding, are some of the issues.
  •  The biggest blame lies with local authorities. Uncleared garbage, irregular schedule for garbage clearance, unscrupulous municipal workers who have to be “paid” to clear garbage, uncleaned drains, waterways and canals and badly maintained garbage dumps are all helping to prolong the epidemic.
  • People should be held responsible for keeping the households, roads and their community clean. Where is the Environment Police? Newspapers said there will be monitoring as to who litter the roads but we have not seen any such thing happening.
  •  People should be blamed to a large extent for this predicament.
  •  Most households too have to be blamed for keeping unclean premises around their homes.
  • I live in Aluthgama/Bentota area and for nearly 30 days garbage have not been cleared from the roads. We have lots of luxury hotels and lots of tourists visit this area continuously. We were told by the new government that the public sector is not efficient and something will be done about it. But the status quo remains. Public sector offices do what they want. The new president seems to have a good vision specially on stopping shopping bags. But everywhere the roads are full of garbage and plastics. I’m very sad about Sri Lanka.
  •           The crisis is all about cleanliness. For treatment we have the experts. But why come to that stage when we could nip the problem in the bud. Seriousness is critical if we are to succeed. The members of Parliament, Pradeshiya Sabas, Town Councils, etc have to get on the roads and lead by example. If all the NGO’S have a common theme and all their social work is focused on this, the menace could be eradicated. I remember going for many Shramadana projects while in school. Even all offices could do it. The state should increase the DDT spraying. Of course the state has no funds now. Strange because there are budgets for fancy cars!


7-point plan suggested

A Colombo resident suggested the following 7 point structure to ensure a clean environment:

1. Clean private residencies and lands (responsibility of each owner)

2. Clean private business buildings and lands (responsibility of the owners)

3. Clean government buildings and lands (responsibility of the institute/school/university)

4. Clean common areas such as roads, culverts and parks (responsibility of the local body)

5. Conduct effective awareness campaigns (Ministry of Health/Ministry of Media)

6.Formulation of effective dengue treatment plan (Health Ministry /Private Hospitals Association)

7.            Formulation of well-coordinated task force (Responsibility of the executive)

Street comments in Colombo and
Gampaha put together by RCB:


  •  It is proven beyond doubt that the work of the municipalities are unsatisfactory as garbage is never collected on time.
  •  The Government is incapable of eradicating epidemics like dengue in spite of foreign assistance.
  •  Make your home surroundings clean.
  •   An unclean domestic environment contributes to the spread of the disease.
  •  Commissioners in local authorities are ineffective in ensuring cities are clean.
  •  Since there are no bins to hold garbage refuse collected in market places, the environment is threatened.
  •  There is no commitment shown by the public although the Government is taking every effort to arrest the issue.
  •  Patients get sick by the way they are addressed in hospitals by the staff and given shoddy treatment.
  •  Just like garbage, the Government also stinks over this issue.
  •  If the Government worked properly the dengue epidemic could have been controlled like in Cuba.
  •  Residents should keep their home environments clean to prevent the spread of dengue mosquitoes.
  •  Doctors perform to the best of their ability. With limited resources they are doing their best. There is a scarcity of doctors and drugs especially in rural areas.
  •   Volunteer organizations can do much more in helping to contain the spread of the virus.
  •  Rather than protesting on the streets and wasting time, angry youth should cooperate with dengue prevention measures.
  •  The Government has no plan. It is simply buying time. If the people are compelled to do everything why should there be a government? Are the ministers only interested in vehicles and houses? Only a handful are working in the interests of the country while the others are feathering their own nest.
  •  Government officials don’t work in offices. They sleep. Punish them.
  •  Garbage is not collected by the local authorities on time.
  •  Bring the public service and the armed forces together in a joint effort to quickly contain the epidemic.
  •  There is a need for an effective drainage system to collect waste water treatment and maintenance.
  •  All state and private institutions to be held responsible for this calamity and stiff penalties imposed including responsible officers held accountable for a clean environment.
  •  Empower residents in localities to clean their compounds and to keep them to required standards.
  •  Garbage is the responsibility of everyone, not only the government.
  •  It is unfortunate that the Health authorities have not found the vaccine or drug against dengue.

Galle residents:

  •   No proper system for the disposal of garbage in towns and in villages. It is seasonal.
  •  Local officials have a dictatorial attitude on the disposal of garbage. There is no interest by local councilors as councils have been dissolved and no elections are yet in sight.
  •  There are no rules for the disposal of garbage in this country. What is the Government doing while the epidemic is spreading?
  •  Doctors are doing their maximum but the number of patients are increasing.
  •  Launch a national programme against the epidemic with the participation of local government members like in the past.
  •  Enforce tough action against haphazard dumping of garbage.
  •  The Central Government should take action against provincial councils which are ineffective in containing the epidemic.
  •  Politicians are capitalizing on these issues. The public should be alert and resist such moves.
  •  The Government is trying its best while the import of drugs is at a heavy cost.
  •  People need to be given proper and accurate information  on these issues not only from the Government but by the media too.
  •  Local Government institutions are only checking private lands while schools and Government institutions have become breeding grounds.
  •  Enforce strict laws and implement them fully on anybody irrespective of their status. Unfortunately the enforcement mechanism is poor.
  •  Import the anti-bacteria to control the epidemic.
  •  There is only talk and no implementation by the authorities. Let’s all unite and face the enemy together.
  •  Although the local authorities are collecting the garbage there is no interest by the pubic to keep their compounds clean.

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