Selangor has been urged to step up efforts to eradicate Aedes breeding grounds to combat the spread of dengue, Zika and Chikungunya.

Health Minister Dr S Subramanam said dengue is still a huge national concern and that Selangor contributes to more than 50% of the cases. "We are also seeing an upward trend in the number of dengue cases; whereby in the past months, 1,600 to 1,800 cases were recorded on average. However, the numbers have shot up with 2,233 cases recorded from June 4 – 10 (Week 23); while there were 2,302 cases from May 28 – June 3 (Week 22),” he remarked.

Nonetheless, the accumulated cases until Week 23 this year (43,087) have decreased compared to the corresponding period last year (52,185).

Measures taken to address staff shortage

In January this year, the Selangor government observed a shortage of health officers, and even had to resort to pest control companies to conduct fogging in the state's high-risk areas.

State health Executive Councillor Dr Daroyah Alwi said the department had no choice but to outsource pest control services to carry out fogging in all 12 local authorities.

This came after a spike in dengue cases was reported in the third week of January.

Previously the Ministry of Health (MOH) also attempted to curb the number of dengue cases by releasing mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria in a select area of Selangor – to determine if there is any impact on reducing dengue cases in the country.

The pilot study was to understand the behaviour of the disease-transmitting mosquito species and is still ongoing.

The Wolbachia bacteria is able to block the dengue virus from replicating within the mosquito, and in turn curbs the number of dengue infection cases.

Public co-operation is needed for campaign success

Dr Subramaniam called on all parties, individuals, local authorities and state governments to join forces to eradicate Aedes breeding grounds to prevent the spread of dengue – because in February, it was also reported that there was an overwhelming lack of public support towards the campaigns to eradicate the Aedes mosquito in Selangor.

Selangor Health director Datuk Dr Zailan Adnan said that on average, 70% of home owners at localities where dengue cases occur, refuse to co-operate to fogging activities.

"The public's attitude has not changed much when it comes to ridding Aedes breeding spots. There were also many home owners who refused to allow on-duty personnel from entering their house compounds to conduct checks and fogging," she said.

In conjunction with Asean Dengue Day on 16 June, Dr Subramaniam urged for regional co-operation to continue combating the scourge of dengue. MIMS

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