IN A bid to reduce the number of dengue cases in the municipality, Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) has introduced dengue squads in schools within its jurisdiction.
So far, 54 of the 79 schools in the area are participating in the programme, which is in collaboration with the Petaling Health and Education departments.
MPSJ deputy president Mohd Zulkurnain Che Ali said the squads were set up on a voluntary basis and participants came from all schools, including the vernacular schools.
He said the squads would be guided by the MPSJ Health Department’s anti-Aedes unit, which would visit the participating schools to provide hands-on training for squad members.
Zulkurnain said the squad members would be taught how to look for Aedes breeding grounds in their school compounds and methods of preventing dengue outbreaks.
He said they would be provided with a kit that came with tools including a book for them to record activities and findings during their rounds.
“The handbook comes with a checklist of potential breeding spots in schools such as toilets, store rooms, gardens, fields and flower pots.
“They will have to monitor these spots from time to time and record their observations in the book, so that they will able to keep track of the situation in a particular spot over time,” he said, adding that a special award would be given to the best squad based on activity and performance.
By creating the anti-dengue squads in schools, Zulkurnain said MPSJ hoped the schools would also be able to assume the responsibility of being engaged in anti-dengue activities.
Besides that, he said, the students were expected to educate their families on dengue prevention.
“Through this, we expect to engage society in the fight against Aedes mosquitoes,” he said at an event in Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya.
Zulkurnain said each participating school sent five representatives, including a teacher, who were assigned to various group activities and made to answer questions on Aedes mosquitoes and dengue.
He added that the event, which included educational games, was organised by MPSJ in collaboration with the Education and Health departments as well as Sunway Lagoon theme park.
Since the event, SRK Seksyen 2 Bandar Kinrara in Puchong has set up its dengue squad, comprising 30 pupils and several teachers.
The school’s senior assistant in charge of student affairs, Norliza Hanim Razali said the squad made a difference as it helped drive home the message that Aedes mosquitoes were dangerous and must be eliminated.
She thanked the teachers involved and the pupils who had been picked to be in the squad, for their contribution and dedicated service.
“I see that the awareness level among the teachers and, especially, pupils has increased.
“We realise that the squad’s activities can influence their peers as we collectively work towards ensuring the school is free of the dengue menace,” she added.
While acknowledging MPSJ’s initiative, Norliza also thanked the Petaling Education Department for its support and guidance.
Squad coordinator Raeme Othman, who is assisted by four other teachers, said the squad had worked out a duty roster so that the duties could be divided fairly.
“The teams carry out daily inspections 15 minutes before school starts, at various spots to check for Aedes larva.
“The pupils are guided by the teacher on duty and they carry out their tasks using the tools provided by MPSJ,” she said, adding that the squad kept a log of their daily inspections.
Raeme said the records would then be presented to MPSJ health officers when they paid routine visits to the school.
Petaling Education Department student affairs coordinator Mohd Zabidi Ismail said he was satisfied with the progress showed by the participating schools.
Zabidi said he was pleased that 54 out the 79 schools in the municipality were participating in the programme and believed the rest of the schools would soon follow suit.
“The dengue squad programme is slowly becoming popular among schools and the feedback has been positive,” he said.
He disclosed that the department was overwhelmed by the response received from schools outside MPSJ’s jurisdiction, adding that there were 139 schools within the Petaling district.
“Schools from outside MPSJ’s boundaries have been asking us why the squads were not being set up for them.
“These schools are in Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya and I hope the local authorities there will follow in MPSJ’s footsteps and set up similar dengue awareness programmes,” he added.
Up until the second week of October, 4,556 dengue cases have been reported in Subang Jaya.
MPSJ has identified three dengue hotspots – Lorong Harun, Kampung Bukit Lanchong; Jalan 18/8 to 18/28 and the flat areas of Taman Sri Serdang 2; and Taman Serdang Perdana Persiaran Perdana (One South).
Though the council has been engaging the public in dengue eradication, the number of cases increased since StarMetro’s last report in August, when dengue cases stood at 3,992 as at Aug 12.
MPSJ Public Relations senior assistant director Asfarizal Abdul Rashid advised the public to spend 10 minutes of their time to search for and destroy potential mosquito breeding spots in their premises.
“We hope people will change their attitude about keeping their surroundings clean and free from Aedes mosquitoes to prevent a rise in dengue cases,” he said.
Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), meanwhile, uses the Mosquito Magnet, which costs RM4,800 per unit, in areas with a large number of Aedes mosquitoes or reported dengue cases.
Bukit Gasing assemblyman R. Rajiv said he bought four such units two years ago for testing purposes and they had proven effective.
This machine traps mosquitoes by emitting carbon dioxide and heat to mimic a human body.
“Mosquitoes are attracted to humans because of our body heat and the carbon dioxide we emit, which is why the Mosquito Magnet works,” he said.
He added that the devices were usually placed at a certain spot for a week, but this could extend to as long as a month or two depending on the situation.
In Taman Jaya, Rajiv said thousands of mosquitoes were trapped by the machine.
“MBPJ officers stationed at the park also told me the mosquitoes had decreased around the park,” he said, adding that the Mosquito Magnet locations were determined based on public complaints and requests.
MBPJ also uses the more traditional fogging method to reduce the number of mosquitoes and regularly carries out search-and-destroy operations citywide.
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