Saturday, July 30, 2005

Welcome to Dengue Alert - The Fight Against Dengue in Singapore

This Blog is dedicated to those who share a vision in ensuring Singapore is safe from any outbreak of Dengue fever as everyone has a part to play.

For a start, if you happen to see any potential spot (be it in public areas - eg drains, fields, etc.. where there is stagnant water, or in private compounds - eg derelict or unoccupied homes with stagnant water, etc..) for the breeding of mosquitoes, please take a snapshot of the spot and post it on this Blog so that the relevant authorities (like the NEA) can take the necessary action. Remember to identify the location of the spot (eg name of road or field, house number, etc).

Alternatively, you can email the photos to me at with the relevant details and I will do the rest.

Remember, each and everyone of you has a vested interest to ensure your loved ones (like your children and spouse, parents, siblings, relatives and friends) do not fall prey to this deadly disease, especially if the potential breeding ground is in the proximity of their residences. So, bring out that camera phone or digital camera and make full use of it !!

For non dengue-related issues, you may want to visit another blog at if you have something to report or comment.

(Note: To give you some background on my vested interest on this issue - my family being victims of the frequent mozzie attacks in my neighbourhood, I reproduce below my letter to the Today newspaper which was published on 24 Feb 2005. Well, it's been almost 6 months since that letter but not only has problem not improved, it seems to have got worse. Lest you get carried away after reading this letter, the reporting of mosquito breeding grounds does not result in any monetary awards:

"Mosquitoes breeding in public places ...

If found, fine responsible govt entities, contractors

While I agree with Mr Lim Boon Hee's view that choked drains in Singapore could well be the main source of mosquito breeding ("Beef up green agency's resources to tackle dengue", Feb 23), I have an alternative suggestion for combating the problem.

As highlighted by Mr Lim, the Government needs to seriously consider another source of breeding, other than private property: All public places — not just the drains.

While there are measures to fine errant property owners, are there similar measures to address breeding in public places?

I had a similar experience of the rise in mosquito attacks in my Newton neighbourhood over the last two weeks.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) found the source of the breeding was the drain outside the property along Buckley Road. Thankfully, the mosquitoes were not of the Aedes strain that causes dengue.

However, the NEA claimed that lately, some of their pest- and vector-control work (including that at the Buckley Road site) is now outsourced, so the responsibility now lies with the contractors to whom the work is outsourced.

The NEA did not divulge if any penalties were imposed on these errant contractors in the Buckley Road case.

I suggest that in addition to the existing deterrent fines on owners of households found breeding mosquitoes in their private compounds, fines should also be imposed on Government entities or their contractors, if breeding is found in public places.

Furthermore, to encourage every resident here to play a part in controlling the spread of dengue fever, those who report such breeding grounds in public places should be given a token reward (perhaps $100 for each first report).

By mobilising all residents, it is hoped that all corners of Singapore will be covered as the NEA's officers — and its contractors — cannot be everywhere all the time.

Is the Government up to the challenge to allow the NEA (or its contractors) to be subject to public scrutiny?")

Of course, on its part, the government must have its fair share of responsibility too. They must especially ensure all unoccupied properties be regularly maintained and inspected to ensure the properties are free of potential breeding grounds (remember, if the owners are not staying in these vacant properties, they are not subject to the dangers of the disease while their neighbours are). Perhaps the NEA should consider stricter deterrent penalties using the "3-strikes-you're-out" system (targeting the recalcitrant offenders) like the termination of the outsourced contractors or the public naming of companies/households if they're caught breeding mosquitoes under their watch or premises respectively at least 3 times within a 3-month span, in addition to deterrent fines as such irresponsible behaviour can result in loss of lives. As performance indicators, all levels of those involved in eradicating the dengue threat, from the Environment Minister right down to the men on the ground, must have their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) pegged to how successful the menace is contained (certainly the recent increasing trend in the number of dengue cases indicates less than satisfactory performance).

Finally, if fellow Singaporeans and residents have other suggestions on efforts to contain the menace, please feel free to contribute.

Thank you for your civic-mindedness.

29 July 2005


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