Decline in dengue deaths attributed to speedy govt. action
Friday, 18 March 2011 02:16
COLOMBO, 17 March 2011 (IRIN) - For the first time in two years, reports of dengue fatalities and infections in Sri Lanka are falling, which officials attribute to aggressive island-wide public awareness campaigns and measures to wipe out mosquito breeding grounds.
As of March 10, 2011, there had been 2,261 dengue infections and 24 deaths reported, according to the Health Ministry’s epidemiology unit. These figures were down significantly from last year when there had been more than 9,600 infections and 64 deaths in the first two months of the year alone. This was the first time since early 2009 that there has been such a substantial drop, noted Pabha Palihawadena, director of the Health Ministry’s epidemiology unit. “There is a very definite slowdown in the spread of the disease,” he said.
Faced with mounting fatality figures in 2010 the Sri Lankan government set up an inter-ministerial task force to fight dengue last May that included three ministries as well as defence and regional public officials. The military, police and civil defence forces cleaned public areas suspected of being mosquito breeding grounds while dumping rubbish at unauthorized locations became a criminal offence. Violators were arrested and fined as much as US$50 and public health inspectors visited homes and offices in search of potential breeding places. Owners of buildings and homes found to be “repeat violators” faced fines of up to $150. “It was punitive action that really put an end to human induced breeding areas,” said the Health Ministry’s chief epidemiologist, Sudath Peiris.
Dengue infections are highest in urban areas due to man-made breeding spots, he explained...