KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 (Bernama) — Despite the intensive efforts of various programmes, the current dengue fever epidemic seems to spread unabatedly.
Dengue fever cases continue to rise as the vicious seven-day life cycle of the aedes mosquito seemed unstoppable.
The Malaysian Integrated Medical Professionals Association (Mimpa) president Dr Dhesi Baha Raja disagreed with those who are pessimistic about beating the disease as Singapore had shown it could be done.
“While many may say Singapore is smaller and more manageable, the battle against dengue fever in Malaysia could be won if the entire community, government, non-governmental organisations and associations worked together to eradicate aedes mosquito,” he told Bernama here today.
Dr Dhesi said as a measure to combat the dengue epidemic, Mimpa was set up nine months ago to mobilise the community to carry out its social responsibility in cleaning up construction and village areas which are aedes mosquito breeding hotspots.
“For this purpose, we need 1,500 volunteers but we only have 300 people registered to date, and when we get the manpower, we will put on a monthly schedule so that volunteers could choose their convenient time to help,” he said.
The volunteers will join 44 doctors under Mimpa in its pioneer project in Lembah Pantai areas in the federal capital in August before it is extended to 12 other hotspots around Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.
To attract the involvement of more youths, Mimpa is now actively promoting the volunteer programme in social websites such as Twitter by using #1500Spartans, and those interested could register at email@example.com.
From January to June 28 this year, there were 44,518 dengue cases reported, a rise of 246 per cent or 31,660 cases compared to 12,858 cases in 2013.
In the same period, there were 85 deaths reported nationwide compared to only 27 for the period in 2013, an increase of 215 per cent or 58 deaths.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Health and Environment Department director, Dr Hayati Abdullah said the indifferent attitude of some communities in taking care of their surroundings is hampering work to eradicate dengue.
She added that efforts to control dengue fever should not be the sole responsibility of DBKL as the agency has done its best carried out various initiatives such as fogging.
“The fogging exercise also did not get the cooperation of residents as they do not allow DBKL to enter their houses or they are out of the house when fogging is carried out,” she said.
Dr Hayati added fogging does not mean the area was free from dengue as the spray only kills adult mosquito and the people should continue to keep their environment clear of mosquito breeding areas especially in flower pot trays.
Dr Hayati also said public reception to DBKL anti-dengue programmes has been lukwarm.
“When dengue breaks out in a certain area, DBKL will meet the residents association for a gotong-royong but on the activity day, only the committee members are present,” she said.
Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Environment Research Centre head Professor Dr Ku Halim Ku Hamid said there was a lack of empathy as the awareness also sets in when a family member is struck by the disease which has no vaccine.
In this regard, Ku Halim proposed the establishment of social work to encourage more to be involved in eradicating aedes mosquito breeding areas.
“The social service maybe used as an alternative for courses or co-curriculum activities for school and institution of higher learning students or even among civil servants,” he said.