Government Targets Two Months To Reduce Dengue Fever Cases

PUTRAJAYA, July 14 (Bernama) -- The government has set a target of two months from today to reduce the number of dengue fever cases, especially in the 492 localities where the disease is active.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced this after chairing the inaugural meeting of the National Committee on Dengue in Putrajaya.

He said the target would be achieved through the national committee which would initiate optimum measures to control the disease.

"We hope to see a positive impact over the next two months. The reported number of dengue fever cases and deaths is rising and alarming," he said.

Muhyiddin said Selangor had the highest number of localities where the disease was active, at 264, followed by Kelantan (66), Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (45), Negeri Sembilan (41), Johor (28) and Sarawak (14) and the rest in Perak, Sabah, Kedah, Penang, Pahang, Perlis and Melaka.

Between January and July 12 this year, 48,845 cases of dengue fever were reported, up by 34,719 or 246 per cent compared to the 14,126 cases for the corresponding period last year. Ninety-two deaths were also reported.

Muhyiddin said that despite the rise in the number of dengue fever cases, the government felt it was not necessary as yet to declare an emergency but implement a more comprehensive integrated action plan by identifying the hotspots.

"Some of the hotspots have been in existence for a month, particularly in the areas most severely affected, namely Selangor (62 localities), Kelantan (eight), Negeri Sembilan (five) and Sarawak (one)," he said.

Muhyiddin said the committee would consider whether to expand control in these areas, including in terms of manpower capacity, and whether there was a need to secure additional resources from elsewhere.

"Additional requirements in terms of equipment, medicines or supplies of certain materials to assist in the operations of all departments and agencies in the preventive operations will be identified," he said.

Muhyiddin said the meeting also discussed the existing budget and whether it was sufficient or otherwise. So far, the Health Ministry had spent almost RM8 million.

"If the budget is insufficient, the ministry will say so and we will seek a supplementary budget as well as additional manpower," he said.

Muhyiddin said that though the community awareness level on the dangers of dengue fever was 90 per cent, some people did not take the precautionary measures.

As such, he said, the awareness campaign would continue to be intensified through various channels, such as through the mass media, leaflets and 'ceramah' (talks) in the hotspots.

"I will also go down to the ground myself in several of these areas to get the people to participate in the campaigns to make them more effective," he said.

He also said that the committee agreed on the reactivation of the Communication for Behavioural Impact (COMBI) team that was set up by the Health Ministry to help drive the dengue campaign.

Muhyiddin said enforcement of the law would be tightened because many people regarded dengue lightly.

For example, contractors must ensure that their construction sites did not turn into breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito, carrier of the dengue virus, he said.

"We are serious in this matter, and will ensure that the law is applied for the purpose. We hope for the people's cooperation," he said.


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