Don't overlook Dengue | Daily News


Don't overlook Dengue

With the nightmare of the Coronavirus largely behind us there could be a tendency on the part of the public to drop their collective guard as regards lesser diseases in our midst that had been common in this country. Dengue appears to be rearing its ugly head once again with 26,000 cases reported up until August and 25 deaths.

The onset of the monsoons and the massive floods that submerged many parts of Colombo City following the heavy downpours is bound to aggravate the situation. Last year a total of 105,000 dengue cases were detected with 95 deaths. All precautions, therefore, need to be taken to avert such a situation during the remaining months of this year. Certainly this is not going to pose a problem for the health authorities given that the Covid-19 defence apparatus is still very much intact which could be depended upon to act in an emergency although dengue is a different kettle of fish that is far widespread in this country as an epidemic.

The Epidemiology Unit has warned the public to be vigilant of all types of mosquito breeding sites and to destroy them regularly. Construction sites are one of the most congenial spots for mosquito breeding together with abandoned structures and old rambling and unoccupied homes that could be found in many cities. Schools that were closed down for over four months may also be vulnerable. It is not known if these schools did a proper cleanup before reopening or if the mosquito breeding spots received due attention.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa won high praise from all quarters for taking steps to promptly deal with the Coronavirus pandemic before things got out of hand by deploying health teams together with the Tri-Forces to tackle the emergency. A similar response will be anticipated from the health officials to deal with the dengue epidemic as well, perhaps with greater intensity. While the Coronavirus cases numbered only a little over 3,000 and 12 deaths in this country dengue is known to claim a far heavier toll. Hence, the same efficiency, commitment and dedication shown by the health officials is called for in dealing with dengue, if not more, since, as already mentioned, more monsoonal rains have been forecast giving rise to a spike in the number of the victims.

Initial measures should be promptly put into operation that would minimize the impact. All construction sites, neglected buildings, dilapidated structures etc. should be smoked out to destroy the mosquito larvae. All polluted canals should be cleaned up especially those lying alongside shanty dwellings. The cleanup ought to start from Government offices and buildings which appear to be the worst offenders. Stiff penalties should be slapped on residents and households who willfully neglect their surroundings, inviting the breeding of mosquitoes.

The Grama Sevekas should be asked to keep a constant vigilant eye for signs of dengue risks in the designated divisions and work in tandem with the PHIs. It will be ideal if the relevant health officials fan out across the country to curb the dengue threat. Special programmes should be conducted in schools to educate the children on the dangers of the dengue epidemic and precautionary steps to be adopted.

A Presidential Task Force should be set up for the Prevention of Dengue. Nothing will move faster in getting into action unless it is under the watchful eye of the President as we have seen during the Coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies.


Reforming the Police

The physical assault on a police party who went on a drugs raid to a house in Bandaragama on Wednesday, no doubt would have appalled many who witnessed the scene on television and left many wondering if the police would be able to perform the task of protecting the ordinary public anymore. Such a scenario would certainly have been incomprehensible decades ago when the khaki uniform evoked awe and respect that made criminals and wrong doers running for cover at the sight of a guardian of the law. The manner in which the policemen (including two WPCs) were manhandled and the fierce nature of the assault was a clear indication that the Police no longer held any fears for law breakers. Perhaps, the police have brought this upon itself. The recent spate of arrest of police officers for drug running, collusion with the narcotics underworld, their shenanigans in the prisons, revelation of details of their well stacked bank accounts from illegal activities etc., have all contributed to the esteem of the police service taking a heavy beating with the result that its officers have now lost for them that element that drew fear and dread of the khaki uniform, by breakers of the law. Things should be put right without delay by reforming the Police service and restoring public confidence in it.


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