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Deadly dengue still a menace

by Jonathan Chia, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on February 7, 2013, Thursday

AEDES BE GONE: Dr Jamilah (fourth right), Daez (second right) and Vendery launching the state-level SC Johnson Anti-Aedes Inter-School Rangers Competition at SMK Matang Jaya. — Photo by Jeffery Mostapa

Health Dept has implemented various measures to fight the disease but cases remain high

KUCHING: There are still no signs to indicate that dengue cases in the state are dwindling despite measures taken by the Health Department to destroy Aedes mosquitoes.

State Health Department deputy director (Public Health) Dr Jamilah Hashim said as of Feb 5, 2013, a total of 256 dengue cases were reported, compared to only 84 cases during the same period last year.

“This shows a very big increase of 172 cases, or 205 per cent,” she told a press conference after launching the state-level SC Johnson Anti-Aedes Inter-School Rangers Competition at SMK Matang Jaya here yesterday.

Dr Jamilah added that the state registered 1,519 dengue cases last year, which was the fifth highest nationwide.

“The dengue cases started to increase in August last year and it continued to climb until today. If we look at the data from our daily surveillance, the allowed cases by the Ministry of Health for a week are only 30 cases, but since August, we have breached that number.”

She admitted that the ministry had issued an instruction to the department to reduce the number of cases below 30 cases per week by Feb 13.

“We have about one week to do that. So far, within these three days, we received reports of 18 cases, which is an average six cases per day,” she said.

“Last week, we had 44 reported cases. It was reported in places such as Kuching, Bintulu, Sibu, Limbang, Kapit and Lawas. This shows that we are still not out from the worrying level yet.’

Considering that the state had already registered two fatalities as a result of dengue this year, Dr Jamilah said the Health Department had to ensure the condition would not worsen.

“We have conducted laboratory tests, and, as of now, we still don’t know what kind of dengue viruses are infecting us. There are four different dengue viruses. So if we have been infected by one type of virus, we are not protected against the other three.”

Dr Jamilah said everyone have to play their role to prevent dengue cases from escalating, adding that if there were no preventive measures, there would be no way that the community could win this war.

“We really need people to inspect their house compounds, just 10 minutes per week. Aedes mosquito’s life cycle is just one week so if we can tackle that one week cycle then we will be able to break the life cycle and it will not grow to be Aedes.”

Dr Jamilah added that the Health Department had issued 142 notices and compounds so far this year to premises found breeding Aedes mosquitoes.

Last year, notices and compounds were issued to 52 schools; one notice to a kindergarten, three compounds and seven notices to primary schools, 16 compounds and six notices issued to a secondary schools.

“There were 33 schools with dengue cases reported and out of this, two were from kindergartens, 11 from primary schools and 20 from secondary schools.”

When asked whether the introduction of the SC Johnson Anti-Aedes Rangers School Programme would benefit the community as a whole, Dr Jamilah said, “Personally, if a child comes to my house and look for Aedes mosquito breeding areas, I will feel very ashamed of myself. That is an impact that a child can give to an adult.”

Among those present at the press conference were SC Johnson & Son (M) Sdn Bhd general manager Ramon Daez and state Education Department Private Education and Special Education sector head Vendery Milah Nata.

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