Thursday, August 25, 2005

Channel News Asia (24 Aug 2005) - NEA focuses on drain flushing to fight rising dengue cases

Finally, NEA has decided to do more about potential breeding areas in public drains. It has also decided to put up information about dengue clusters on its website - link on this blog at Weekly Dengue Clusters Update (refer to my appeal for such information on this blog on 15 Aug, "Appeal to NEA on 15 Aug 2005 for information on known dengue clusters" . This is a good start. Following extracted from CNA 24 Aug:

Posted: 24 August 2005 - NEA focuses on drain flushing to fight rising dengue cases
By Rita Zahara, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : A total of 7,403 cases of dengue fever has been reported in the first eight months of this year. This is nearly double the number of 3,782 cases for the same period last year. Concerned with its resurgence, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has set aside an additional $7.5 million to flush the drains, a common breeding home for mosquitoes. This is on top of the $2.5 million spent yearly for this purpose. Common areas like pump rooms and water tanks are fast becoming hotspots for mosquito breeding - up from 21 percent last year to 36 percent this year. Latest figures show the three largest dengue clusters in Singapore are Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 with 15 reported cases, Choa Chu Kang Central with 11 and Marsiling Drive with 10. To further curb the rise, the NEA has extended its efforts by putting up a websiteto highlight the location of the clusters. From August 25, the public can find out about possible dengue cases in certain areas. The information will be updated weekly. NEA has also been recruiting more field inspectors this year - from 110 to 360. A further 150 will be recruited in the next two months. By year end, there will be over 500 inspectors - four times more than the number last year. Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Environment and Water Resources Minister, said: "We will work with the town councils to see whether they can hire dedicated pest control operators, which means there is an operator that they have hired that will do more flushing of the drains, fogging, clearing of the sites. Because you have to check constantly the pump rooms, the water tanks, because all these are common areas." So far, Jurong, Hong Kah and Sembawang Town Councils have hired dedicated pest control operators targeting the breeding sites found in common areas. Although more households may be aware of dengue, this has not been translated much to action. The number of breeding sites at construction sites has fallen to 9 percent, but that in residential homes was down by only 5 percent to 55 percent. So the government is calling on all Singaporeans, including community organisations and condominium operators, to play their part. Dr Yaacob said: "On our part, NEA is prepared to work to spend money, to play our part but we cannot do it alone, we have to do it with our partners so Singaporeans, community organisations, town councils, condominium operators will have to play their part together with us." The Health Ministry is also working with doctors who had dengue patients to help identify the infected places. In July this year, the NEA announced it would spend $10 million on dengue prevention measures - putting up posters at bus-stops and MRT stations. - CNA/de

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