A recent series of reports on the media on the dengue epidemic suggested that the Ministry of Health (MOH) was running out of ideas to manage the ongoing crisis.
The suggestions were that MOH had failed and needed to take responsibility for their failure.
This sort of view removes the responsibility that the public, the average person, has in supporting their own health needs. It also denies the effort taken and thousands of person-hours invested by numerous MOH officers all over the country to stem the epidemic. It negates the numerous planning activities and operations carried out by state and national MOH senior managers.
Dengue will not be controlled by the MOH alone, but must involve the people, every person.
There are only so many effective measures we can take to prevent a vector-borne disease.
The public is too used to wanting someone else to fix their own health failures.
Eat too much, get fat, get diabetes; ask the doctor to treat you.
Smoke too much, damage your lungs; ask the doctor to give you drugs to help you breathe.
Drive too fast, have an accident; ask the doctor to repair your broken bones.
Imagine that every Malaysian acted to prevent dengue transmission.
Imagine if every Malaysian was conscientious to not throw rubbish anywhere.
Imagine if we all proactively kept our home compounds and our neighbourhoods clean.
Imagine if construction sites did not harbour breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes, because the bosses were committed enough to follow proper procedure.
Imagine if our city councils really worked, kept our environments clean and did not approve so many destructive new projects.
Imagine the phenomenal reduction in mosquito breeding sites.
Imagine the lives saved and the large reduction in dengue clinic visits and hospital admissions.
Imagine the health manpower that would be freed to attend to many neglected health issues.
Imagine how much we would save and could invest in other pressing health needs.
Rather than blame exhausted MOH staff, why don’t we all take responsibility for the health of our country, our families and ourselves?
While it is true that dengue eradication will not be achieved purely by mosquito reduction, if we all play our part, the large epidemics we have will diminish.
Dengue prevention is the responsibility of all Malaysians.
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh
Senior consultant paediatrician