Dengue patients exceed 17,200, containment hampered by lack of resourcesView(s):
By Nadia Fazlulhaq
Residents of Gampaha and Colombo districts are being advised to be extra vigilant in the coming weeks as dengue, which claimed about 70 lives last year, is raising its ugly head again.
Public health authorities say there is a shortage of chemicals for fogging and that fuel is not available for fogging machines. Public health workers are demotivated and people are not doing their part.
“This year will record the highest number of cases in the past five years. There is no fogging taking place due to the shortage of chemicals. PHI officers are given a meagre Rs.1,200 per month for fuel for field visits. Even when we visit houses, people say they worry about finances rather than clearing mosquito breeding places,” said Public Health Inspectors Union’s head Upul Rohana.
He said laboratory tests are delayed and patient information being released from hospitals is also delayed.
“Usually, we are informed of a detection and given a patient’s whereabouts immediately. Based on that we go to inspect, ensure cleaning and fogging is done and even fine those maintaining breeding sites.’’ But, now there are delays and by the time officers visit an area where a patient is from, many people would have been infected.
Mr. Rohana said that in previous years, community cleaning campaigns were enthusiastically held, but with tight budgets at local councils, prevention has been neglected.
Last year 76,689 people were infected and 72 died. This year 17,266 dengue patients have been reported. Over 1,500 patients were reported last week.
Dengue is rampant in Negombo MC, Biyagama, Attanagalla, Divulapitiya, Wattala, Ragama, Minuwangoda, Mirigama, Seeduwa, Mahara , Kelaniya, Katana, Gampaha MC, and Ja-ela in the Gampaha district.
Colombo Municipal Council area, Battaramulla, Homagama, Gothatuwa, Egoda Uyana, Moratuwa, Hanwella, Maharagama, Kaduwela, Piliyandala and Ratmalana are declared high risk MOH areas in the Colombo district.
Nugegoda, Badulla, Kuruwita and Mawanella MOH areas were identified as new high risk areas this week.
According to health authorities, idling construction sites, factories, recycling plants, neglected roof gutters, ornamental ponds, bird baths and pet feeding trays are dengue mosquito breeding sites.
“People especially in high-risk areas are advised to immediately remove discarded receptacles such as plastic containers, tins, clay pots, yoghurt and ice cream cups, bottles, cans, damaged ceramic items, coconut shells in their gardens or surrounding environment, or to report to local authorities or MOH offices if there are such discarded items in places they cannot reach,” said Dr. Nimalka Pannilahetti of the Health Ministry’s Dengue Control Unit.
“Roof gutters and concrete slabs continue to be breeding sites for dengue mosquitoes,” she said.
The Dengue Control Unit said water storage containers need to be cleaned thoroughly as stagnant water is ideal for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Vehicle tyres and machinery outdoors are also breeding spots for the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, who transmit dengue virus to humans.
The highest number of patients last week were at Negombo District General Hospital, followed by the Infectious Diseases Hospital, and Colombo National Hospital. Fourteen children are being treated for dengue at Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital.
Most who have died so far are between the ages of 30 and 59 years.
“Those with underlying illnesses should be extra careful as they are prone to [developing] complications. Pregnant women, infants and those with health conditions need immediate medical attention,” she said.
Dr. I. Wanninayake, epidemiologist of Gampaha district, said mosquito control is a daunting task with a resident and migrant population of over 2.5 million.
There has been a high number of patients in Seeduwa, Biyagama, Kelaniya and Divulapitiya.
“There are a lot of factories in Biyagama, Katunayake, Wathupitiwala and Meerigama. There are also processing zones for discarded items. We carried out dengue prevention weeks, with awareness programmes for people and lodgers in these areas. Routine inspections by MOH offices have been increased,” said
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