IN response to “Malaria makes a scary comeback” (The Star, Oct 2; online at tinyurl.com/mryavdwu), I would like to remind readers that “prevention is better than a cure”, in this case related to responsible design, construction and maintenance of residential and commercial premises. Abandoned construction sites where pools of water can collect must also be addressed and resolved.
Fully insect-screened windows and doors to the exterior reduce the risk of insects entering the premises. Sanitary vent pipes on the roof should also be sealed with non-corrosive aluminium insect mesh to stop mosquitoes from finding their way downwards (attracted by the sewer odour) and entering the toilet from floor drain outlets.
The best approach, however, is to ensure mosquitoes do not breed. The insects have a lifecycle of eight to 10 days – hence removing or draining stagnant water in your surroundings in good time will be effective.
Neighbourhood water retention ponds built to temporarily hold water to prevent flooding must be regularly maintained by removing rubbish and sediment at the final discharge point into the main stormwater drains to avoid the situation of ponding for more than a week and thus breeding mosquitoes.
Discarding rubbish, debris and kitchen waste into drains blocks water flow and creates mosquitoes habitats – restaurants, shops and food stalls are big contributors to smelly drain clogs and this uncivil behaviour must be stopped with a combination of education campaigns and strict enforcement.
When houses (and shops) are renovated, it is common to reduce or totally seal off the limited access openings to culverts, denying municipal workers the chance to clear the drains of obstructions. This can lead to stagnant water collecting for long periods, supporting endless lifecycles of mosquito reproduction.
Occasional chemical fogging and larviciding have been common reactions to cases of infections to destroy adult mosquitoes and larvae. However, this is a non-proactive reaction.
The reactive cure mentality must be replaced by the prevention – proactive – mindset that simply stops water from stagnating long enough to allow the mosquito to complete its reproduction cycle. So keeping culvert access unblocked as originally designed, disposing of rubbish and food wastes responsibly, maintaining any pool of water, all this will help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding as well as generally improve hygiene. A bonus: We won’t have to breathe in those nasty fogging vapours.
YEO CHONG MENG