THE situation regarding dengue fever in Malaysia is getting worse. There are fears that an epidemic is at hand – similar to or worse than the one experienced in 1998 where more than 17,000 cases were reported.
In spite of reassurances and promises given by the authorities after each outbreak, the problem continues to recur.
There is no question that the public has a part to play in ensuring that their homes and surrounding areas are free of mosquitoes and breeding grounds.
However, there are other areas over which the public has no control. It was recently reported that among the places found to be breeding grounds for mosquitoes were construction sites (11.5%), cemeteries (7.4%), factories 6.6%) and landfills (5.7%).
The government needs to tackle these areas on a large scale. Consistent punitive action has to be taken against construction site operators and factory administrators whose premises are found to be breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Control of mosquito population is, therefore, critical to check and prevent the spread of dengue. Otherwise, epidemics will continue to surface.
Fogging increases the danger of mosquitoes developing resistance, rendering the pesticides useless while giving rise to other health problems.
The Consumers Association of Penang calls on the Health Ministry to initiate long-term measures that are safe and effective to tackle the dengue menace.
In the meantime, the public should be given the regular updates on the disease spread. This move can alert the public to take precautionary action and doctors can look out for and accurately diagnose and treat dengue cases.
S.M. MOHAMED IDRIS
Consumers Association of Penang,
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