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Awareness key to dengue prevention JAKARTA - The frantic clean-up drives and fumigation of neighborhoods affected by the dengue fever outbreak will do little to stem the disease if people do not change their living habits, said a health official. "People tend to forget the danger of dengue fever if there are no victims in their neighborhood in the off season, while they clean their houses in a panic when somebody dies nearby," said head of the Tanah Abang Community Health Center Dr. Benny Patuwo.
Benny said the aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the dengue virus, lived and laid eggs all year round. He urged people to clean up empty cans or containers filled with water throughout the year to break the mosquito's reproductive cycle -- not only after neighbors or family members had died of the disease. "The outbreak will continue to recur in Jakarta if this habit (to clean up) does not become a part of their everyday behavior."
For example, he said, dengue outbreaks prevailed in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta, despite continued efforts by the health center to inform and educate the public on preventive behavior through leaflets and public information banners. "So far, three people have died from dengue fever, while 44 others have been treated for the disease in several Tanah Abang hospitals since January." Officials at Palmerah Community Health Center, West Jakarta, also claimed that they had conducted an intensive public awareness campaign since the dengue outbreak began in January.
"In Palmerah, 88 people have been infected... It is now up to the residents to stop the outbreak, because we have conducted many campaigns to help prevent the disease from spreading," said Irma, a health center doctor. Director-general of Communicable Diseases Umar Fahmi at the Ministry of Health has repeatedly called on the public to throw out standing water -- the mosquitoes' breeding grounds -- and stressed that fumigating the neighborhood would not be effective, as it would only kill adult mosquitoes and not their larvae or nymphs.
The Jakarta Health Agency had earlier warned that dengue fever had a five-year high outbreak cycle. The last two high outbreaks were in 1998 and 2003, when 15,360 and 14,071 residents were affected, respectively. Iskandar Sitorus, chairman of the Legal Aid Foundation for Health (LBH Kesehatan), regretted the authorities' tendency to blame the public, saying that the government was responsible for the people's education in order to eradicate the disease.
"Law No. 23/92 on health stipulates that the government is be responsible for eradicating disease. The fact is, the health agency has been unsuccessful in preventing the dengue fever outbreak because, according to our observations, 30 people have died in Greater Jakarta hospitals while many more have died without sufficient treatment in their own homes." According to the Ministry of Health, dengue fever has so far affected 2,046 Jakartans, with 16 succumbing to the disease, while across Java, 2,200 have contracted the disease and 61 have died from it.
Iskandar also blasted the administration's slow reaction in publicizing and combating the dengue outbreak. The city administration has only recently planned to gather all subdistrict councils at City Hall on Wednesday to brief them on preventive measures to cope with the outbreak. Health minister Achmad Suyudi is expected to attend.



Posted in Dengue Fever @ 18 February 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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