MORE control and preventive measures are being taken by local authorities and government agencies in reducing the number of dengue cases as figures remain high in Selangor.
The state recorded the most number of dengue cases compared to other states, in the country, as at Dec 15 with 43,846 cases, followed by Johor (7,630) and Kuala Lumpur (7,577).
While the figure is a 11.6% drop compared to the same corresponding period in 2016, state agencies warn that public apathy could lead to a rise in these figures.
Mohammad Hanapi Jusoh, who is senior secretary to State Health, Welfare, Women and Family Affairs Committee chairman Dr Daroyah Alwi, said the state government’s focus was to check on areas with high potential for dengue transmission.
“A popular misconception is that rubbish dumps are where mosquitoes are most likely to breed. But this only true for 11% to 13% of the time.
“Most times, construction sites, abandoned lots and public spaces are where these breeding grounds are found,” he said.
Hanapi said that even with the high figures, there had been a downward trend of dengue cases over the past several months with week 48 recording the lowest figures in the state since 2014.
“During that week, there were only 418 dengue cases recorded compared to last year where the lowest number recorded case was 512.
“There are currently 13 dengue hotspots in Selangor with 466 cases reported at week 49,” he said during an event in Pandan Indah on the appointment of Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) councillors in the Dengue Action Committee (MTD).
There are 24 zones in the municipality and each zone chairman will lead the MTD squad.
In 2016, RM1.5mil was allocated under the Selangor budget for the prevention and control of dengue.
This figure was increased to RM5mil this year and an additional RM5mil has been allocated for 2018.
As part of the state efforts to combat the epidemic, Hanapi said RM2.66mil has been allocated to be distributed to the 12 local councils.
“The budget was used to intensify control and prevention activities by using pest control operators.
“This year, we also worked with Selangor assemblymen where 56 of them received RM10,000 each,” he said adding that the Petaling, Hulu Langat, Gombak and Klang district and land offices received RM50,000 each.
Five other district and land offices namely Sepang, Hulu Selangor, Kuala Selangor, Kuala Langat and Sabak Bernam were allocated RM30,000 each to fight the dengue menace.
Efforts by state agencies
For the message to reach the community, the Hulu Langat District Health Office (PKD Hulu Langat) has started dengue control strategies through several initiatives including source reduction, search and destroy and gotong-royong.
PKD Hulu Langat Vector Unit chief Dr Rosilawati Salleh said to educate residents, a 12-week programme was initiated to teach them how to search and destroy mosquito breeding grounds.
“During the first week, a mega gotong-royong is held with the local council, resident associations and residents.
“From week two to 11, residents are required to do a gotong-royong at each road in the neighbourhood.
“During week five to 10, the local council and health office will conduct checks, especially at homes of residents who did not participate in the programme,” she said when met at one such gotong- royong in Taman Bukit Permai, Ampang.
She added that since January, PKD Hulu Langat conducted the programme in 25 areas, primarily in the Cheras and Kajang districts.
“We focus on areas where there has been a dengue outbreak.
“For example, Taman Bukit Permai was one of the locations.
“The area had three hotspot episodes with 44 cases reported this year,” she said, adding that three more neighbourhoods had been identified for the programme by the year end.
During the gotong-royong, they look for mosquito-breeding grounds, take water samples to check for larvae, spray larvicide and fog the areas.
MPAJ Health Department director Dr Sarodin Shahri said the present approach to dengue control was more reactive than preventive.
However, MPAJ hoped to turn this around with several pre-emptive efforts.
One of these efforts was the Ecosystem team approach, introduced last year by Dr Daroyah, to fight dengue.
Dr Sarodin said this was an on-the-ground method where several teams of officers were stationed at specific constituencies.
“The officers need to be familiar and well equipped with knowledge of their respective ecosystem as well as identify problematic localities.
“They are trained to identify localities at risk by spotting conditions such as open land, abandoned houses, blocked drainage, common public areas, construction sites and stores.
“Once determined, the information will be channelled to the relevant agency for further action,” he explained.
In MPAJ, there are four teams including one team from PKD Hulu Langat.
He added that they hoped to introduce the Ecosystem teams at 53 schools in the municipality.
The council is also concentrating in clearing up back lanes via the “Lorong Belakang Bebas Aedes (Lobba)” programme.
However, Dr Sarodin said residents who illegally fenced up their back lanes were making it more difficult for clean-up work to take place.
“When carrying out clean-up activities, we will confiscate items belonging to residents if they store them at the back lanes.
“If the owners reclaim them, they will be slapped with a compound notice,” he said.
The state government and local councils say that community involvement was the catalyst to turning around the dengue situation.
To encourage residents’ participation, one of the measures taken is the setting up of the Communication for Behavioural Impact (Combi) teams and dengue squads involving residents associations, government agencies, private sectors and non-governmental organisation.
Through the setting up of these teams, the state government hopes to increase awareness and community involvement in dengue prevention activities.
MPAJ Zon 8 Combi team committee member Stephen Lee said one of their roles was to act as “first responders” in a dengue situation.
“We encourage residents to look for mosquito breeding grounds within their compound.
“This is not easy as most people tend to turn a blind eye when it does not affect them,” he said.
Lee said since the team had been active for the past two years, there was a significant decrease in the number of cases in Pekan Ampang, Taman Nirwana, Pandan Indah and Pandan Jaya.
“The areas we cover has a large concentration of people.
“Before, we would get reports on more than three dengue cases a week, but now we hear about them once every other week or so,” he said.
While residents were playing a role to combat dengue, councillors were also stepping up their involvement as MTD zone chairman.
Shouldering the responsibility as MTD zone chairman makes the councillors accountable for their zones.
MPAJ councillor Ahmad Sabri Abu Bakar said he would discuss an action plan with the resident leaders.
“In Bukit Antarabangsa, the situation is controlled. However,constant maintenance is needed as there is a lot of greenery and leaves and roots are not cleared, they can become breeding areas.
“We are also increasing clean up efforts and awareness programmes next year,” he said.
Councillor Ahmad Fauzi Mohd Kamis plans to set up more Combi teams involving residents who were interested in tackling the dengue problem.
“The awareness on how to eradicate dengue is still low in places like Kampung Pandan.
“But, if the message comes from someone they know who is involved in the Combi team, it will be more acceptable,” he said.
He hoped that some allocation would be channelled to the MTD to hold awareness programmes, equip workers with protective gear and to buy abate.
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