Malaysia: War on Dengue and Chikungunya

The Malaysian government has launched a dengue awareness campaign in response to the rising number of dengue cases. Last month, 4,521 dengue cases and 13 dengue-related deaths were reported. The high number of dengue cases is alarming. Last year, Malaysia recorded 49,335 dengue cases and 112 dengue deaths – the worst in the nation’s history.

Aside from dengue, there is another virus which is spreading in several Malaysian states: Chikungunya (pronounced chikoon-goon-nya). Doctor2008's Weblog writes about this little-known virus:

“(Its is) the latest in a series of diseases caused by a virus and spread by mosquitoes. While most of us were distracted by events of the world, this disease has steadily made its impact, not only in tropical regions but also in far-flung countries like Italy. In Malaysia alone, in 2008, more than 3700 cases have occurred. It used to have an incidence of 100 cases per year but this has now risen to 100 cases per week. Strangely enough, mainstream media has been deafeningly quiet and the health authorities have not done enough to educate the public on this relatively unknown condition.

Chikungunya is but the latest in a long line of diseases carried by mosquitoes, which include Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, and the West Nile Encephalitis and causing 1 million deaths worldwide.

Elizabeth Wong lists the dengue hotspots in Malaysia. Daddy-O's has compiled information about dengue fever and chikungunya which he collected from various sources.

Lim Kit Siang hits the Health Minister’s “protracted silence on the dengue epidemic last year.” Environe blames ignorance on public cleanliness for the epidemic:

“The situation is aggravated by the lack of awareness among the Malaysian people about public cleanliness. Refuses and garbage not only pollute the drains,rivers and streams, but they clog them as well. Clogged waters are the best breeding grounds for Aedes mosquito.

“As people continue to be ignorant towards a clean environment, it is no wonder that the dengue cases kept on rising, alarming the Malaysian government.”

Palmdoc agrees with the observation that the present campaign against dengue may be a “phony war”:

“We’ve had years and years of a dengue endemic in our country. Now we are also plagued with Chikungunya which is also transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. We’ve heard and read similar noises before so it’s no surprise to read that a “War on dengue” has been declared by the Health Ministry. Fogging won’t be a permanent solution since it only kills the adult mosquitoes, and indeed the authorities acknowledge the problem is that there are too many breeding grounds for Aedes.

“Unless everyone gets serious, I am inclined to think LKS is right and all this is just lip-service and indeed a Phoney war”

Fogging operation in a Malaysian village. From the blog of As normal as I can be.

M. Bakri Musa thinks that civil engineers should help in the anti-dengue campaign:

“We should engage civil engineers in local councils and the Ministry of Works, instead of medical doctors in local hospitals and the Ministry of Health. If those engineers could get away from their air-conditioned offices, they would notice those stagnant drains, silted ponds, and ditches with overgrown weeds. If those officers could brave the stench and examine closer, they would see mosquito larva luxuriating in the stagnant waters.”

Ji Keon's Blog urges citizens to remember their responsibilities in helping prevent the spread of dengue:

“It has been reported that residents do not allow the authorities to perform fogging activities in their premises. However, no fogging activities have been carried out so far in my area unlike previous years where relevant authorities will dispatch people to carry out fogging activities to eradicate those bloody mosquitos.

“It is unacceptable for the dengue and chikungunya cases to escalate for a prolonged period of time. Swift action must be taken to halt the problem from taking a turn for the worse.

“Prevention is better than cure. The Malaysian citizens must be reminded of the responsibilities they have in helping to curb this outbreak. Let's not allow those mozzies to reduce our productivity and our competitiveness at such critical time when the country needs everybody's effort to revive its ailing economy.


Picture in the front page is from the Flickr page of Pedro Trindade.


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