Our losing battle with dengue

Recently a celebrity comedian succumbed to dengue. Despite our very best efforts, dengue appears to be kicking our butts. With all the numerous campaigns about dengue coupled with public health measures, the number of dengue deaths remains very high. Where has it gone wrong or is this purely a case of natural selection? What else can we do to curb this dengue scourge?

I think the awareness of dengue needs to be heightened to the level achieved by H1N1. There still appears to be a relative malaise surrounding aedes mosquito breeding site eradication. Rapid urbanization has resulted in city dwellers absolving responsibility for their surrounding cleanliness. It is often left to the over burdened city hall services. Gotong royong campaigns are now a rarity.

Monitoring of construction sites, which are mushrooming around the city, is poor. They are often not held to high standards of construction ethics. From proper drainage to waste disposal, construction areas are a mecca for mosquitoes.

Property developers should also be held responsible in ensuring that their designs are technologically advanced and ecologically friendly. From sewers to drains, innovative designs to minimise stagnation should be greatly encouraged. Even low cost ventures should never be exempted from this exercise.

Entomology experts need to be called in to study in greater detail about the life cycle and genetics of Aedes mosquitoes. Conventional insecticides have failed miserably and is hardly environmentally friendly. We need new weaponry to fight the unrelenting multiplication of Aedes mosquitoes.

Ultimately, an effective vaccine is probably going to be the single most effective weapon in fighting dengue. Funding into researching a vaccine for dengue can be made a priority for Malaysian academic institutions. There are several vaccine trials in progress at this moment and we could be seeing its introduction in the next 5 years.

I believe that if we are to eradicate dengue, only mass vaccination of the population is the answer. Until then, dengue deaths appear to be an inevitable trend.

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