Friday, September 23, 2005

Did NEA fail in its task to prevent upsurge in dengue cases?

The following extracted from letter-writer, Lim Boon Hee - Straits Times Online Forum page, 22 Sept 2005:

Sept 22, 2005
Did NEA fail in its task to prevent upsurge in dengue cases?

Between the lines of all the questions and answers in Parliament as well as media coverage of the high profile weekend 'search and destroy' mozzies and 'carpet combing' missions by ministers for breeding sites, the underlying tension of fingering who is ultimately the larger culprit in this dengue epidemic is palpable.

We are told that we have to help ourselves and not depend on the government to stop this outbreak.

We are encouraged to go and tell our neighbours if we find that they are breeding mosquitoes on their grounds.

Can we really do so without causing more Everitt Road-type of neighbourhood vendetta and catfights? Who will tolerate such intrusions in their domestic affairs?

Minister Mah Bow Tan also seems to be pretty convinced that the greater responsibility lies with Singaporeans themselves in the latest dengue scourge.

If, according to the minister, littering is the main contributing factor to mosquito breeding and dengue epidemic, why hasn't enforcement been carried out so that Singapore is not on other countries' lists of dengue hotspots?

Is this also the public's fault for littering and not a blight on the NEA's poor enforcement too?
The other contributory factors brought up include HDB perimeter drains and stagnant water areas because of design flaws. Surely the town councils and HDB must take some of the rap as well?

How can it be that we are almost always reassured that our food or our environment is safe whenever other countries get hit with some environmental hazards, but when something like dengue happens here, it is the people's fault for breeding mosquitoes or their littering rather than the failure of the relevant government bodies in tackling the problem and nipping it in the bud?

I agree that the community must cooperate in fighting dengue but shouldn't we also scrutinise the NEA's role in its failure to prevent or at least curb the present dengue scourge?

Lim Boon Hee

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