“A whole-of society approach is needed to prevent dengue!”  

THE Local Government Development Ministry should be roped in to assist the Health Ministry (MOH) in enforcement efforts to prevent dengue.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) views with concern the spike in dengue cases last year.

A press statement from MOH issued early this month said there was a 150.7% increase in the cumulative number of dengue fever cases reported in 2022, an increase from 39,737 cases to a total of 66,102 cases, compared to 26,365 cases reported in 2021.

According to the statement, the total number of deaths from dengue complications increased by 180% from 20 in 2021 to 56 last year.

Dengue is a public health issue, and its prevention requires a whole-of-society approach. Both the authorities and the public have an important role in protecting the population against dengue.

As Malaysia has been underspending on health, even with its limited funds and resources, MOH has been doing a good job increasing awareness among the public on the prevention of dengue but it’s time the Local Government Development Ministry and the municipal councils work together with MOH and assist in enforcement to ensure Aedes-free environments.

States and their local authorities should go all out to ensure that construction sites, public parks, and swampy areas in villages and townships are often checked for mosquito breeding.

The types of plants by the roadside and public structures that can collect water should also be checked for mosquito eggs. These minor details can have a serious impact on the health of the population.

The Local Government Development Ministry should set key performance indicators (KPIs) for relevant departments under them to tackle the issue of dengue.

The public on the other hand, must ensure that their home and its surrounding areas do not turn into breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito, the mosquito species that infects people with the dengue virus. Water collecting in pots, saucers, various types of containers, drains, and any other place where water can collect can attract mosquitoes to lay their eggs and multiply.

There is no point in carrying out fogging every other month or so if the people aren’t doing their part. The media also plays an important role in educating the public about preventing dengue.

We also wish to advise the public to be careful, especially during the rainy season, as water can collect easily in areas exposed to rainfall.

Children should avoid playing near drains and swampy areas, and as an added precaution, spray mosquito repellent if you are going hiking or to a park for exercise. — Jan 28, 2023

Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai is the president of Malaysian Medical Association.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main photo credit: Prudential BSN Takaful

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