Let’s join the dengue fight

THE old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true at a time like this when authorities have issued an alert over the possible rise in dengue fever cases during the rainy season from November to April.

Dengue fever is no joke and the call from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for communities to be proactive in clean-up campaigns to destroy mosquito-breeding places should not be taken lightly.

It is a timely reminder that it is easier to stop something happening in the first place than to repair the damage after it has happened.

According to the ministry, increased rainfall during the wet season can contribute to the creation of breeding grounds for mosquitoes which carry the dengue virus, meaning there is also an increased risk of a dengue fever outbreak.

Our front page today highlights this public health concern with the ministry expecting to see more cases of dengue fever during this period.

Taking proactive measures can help curb this deadly virus and it’s as simple as emptying water containers, disposing of unused tyres, and covering water drums and tanks. Participating in clean-up campaigns is also a good form of exercise and can help with your daily physical activity count.

Destroying mosquito breeding places can limit the spread of the dengue virus. The onus isn’t on the ministry alone. Everyone in the community has a part to play when it comes to containing the spread of the dengue virus.

The mosquito-borne viral infection causes flu-like illness and can develop into potentially lethal complications such as severe dengue.

According to the World Health Organization, the global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades. About half of the world’s population is now at risk. While there is no cure for dengue fever, WHO says the incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold during the past five decades.

“Some 50-100 million new infections are estimated to occur annually in more than 100 endemic countries, with a documented further spread to previously unaffected areas,” WHO said in an overview of its publication, Global Strategy for dengue prevention and control, 2012-2020.

“Every year hundreds of thousands of severe cases arise, including 20,000 deaths, 264 disability-adjusted life years per million population per year are lost, at an estimated cost for ambulatory and hospitalised cases of $US514-1394 ($F1032-2799), often affecting very poor populations.

“The true numbers are probably far worse, since severe underreporting and misclassification of dengue cases have been documented.”

For now, the ministry is urging every Fijian to take heed of the important advice to help combat the dengue virus.

Don’t be complacent. Make it a priority to rid your compound of mosquito breeding places. Take action today before it is too late.

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