I REFER to the letter, “Bring back DDT to curb dengue” from Mohd Peter Davis (The Star, Jan 14).
Dengue is a vector-borne disease that is prevalent in many parts of the world. It is transmitted by a mosquito species, aedes aegypti .
After decades of mosquito control, the people neither fully understand that mosquitoes transmit the disease nor the life cycle of the mosquitoes. These factors are vital for the control of mosquitoes.
Most people are under the impression that insecticide spraying is the best way of controlling the mosquitoes. In a way that impression is true but they should realise that spraying is only the start of the campaign.
The crucial issue is the co-operation of the people to control the breeding of aedes mosquitoes which breed mostly in small containers inside the house and those thrown in the yards of the houses.
Although insecticide may be used to control indoor-breeding of mosquitoes, the people must eliminate breeding sources. This is the most effective and cheapest method.
I am sure the people who see children suffering and dying should care enough to control the vector-breeding places to keep their children healthy.
In developing countries, like Malaysia, there are numerous breeding places for the mosquitoes, like drains, pools and puddles, ant traps and water storage places in houses.
There are also vectors in the hospitals that are infecting patients. The people must urge the Government to co-operate with them to help eliminate these breeding sources with the use of insecticide, biological methods (like using larvivorous fish) and, most importantly, sanitation methods.
Malaysia is fast developing and I am alarmed to see the open drains in the towns and cities. The need for civic sense in all communities and at every level needs to be stressed.
This is essential not only to control dengue but all other communicable diseases.
DDT was banned primarily because several vector species of mosquitoes became resistant to the insecticide.
I am not sure whether the vector of dengue is resistant to DDT in Malaysia. DDT-spraying during the Malaria Eradication Programme has for decades antagonised the people of most countries who refuse to allow their houses to be sprayed.
In any case with modern housing, I wonder whether the people will allow indoor spraying.
I urge the people to help themselves by eliminating the breeding sources in their houses and yards, the Government to start a dynamic and priority programme and the media to keep on informing the people of this great task.
You have well-trained personnel in the Institute of Medical Research and the Government will certainly be happy to lead this programme to success.
I have an interest in the Malaysian programme as I was associated with Malaysia for nearly four decades while I was working with the World Health Organisation.
May I wish good health to all the Malaysian people and hope that my wish to see Malaysia free of or only with a few cases of dengue will come true.
Dr MOHAN A. RAO, Medical Entomologist (Retired) World Health Organisation, India
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