Raising awareness on dengue to tackle a deadly menace

04/07/2017 – Colombo, Sri Lanka: The volunteers of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society along with the Government Public Health Inspectors launched a massive door to door campaign to educate and to raise awareness on the dengue crisis that has ravaged many parts of Sri Lanka.

Humid monsoon weather, stagnant water from recent flooding, as well as mounting piles of rotting garbage accumulating in the capital, have combined to create abundant areas for mosquitoes to multiply.

This has caused rates of dengue, to surge to over 71,000 people infected in the first six months of this year, a record figure that far surpasses last year’s total of 55,000.

Volunteers, backed by police and health officials, have launched an intensive campaign to identify dengue hotspots to be sprayed with insecticides. Once these hotspots are identified the Red Cross works with home owners to take necessary steps to clean up the environment and to ensure that the disease will not have a breeding ground in the future.

“We are launching this programme mainly on weekend targeting at risk communities in Colombo” says Kumari Kotalawala, the Branch Executive Officer of Sri Lanka Red Cross Colombo Branch. “The main reason we are launching this during weekends is to ensure that we catch the people when they are home so that immediate steps can be taken to clean their environment”

The scale of the spread of the disease has been unprecedented and caught Sri Lankan off guard. Health ministry officials said the 215 deaths in the first six months of this year compared with 78 reported during the whole of 2016.

Stagnant water left behind after last month’s flooding was also seen as contributing to the spread of dengue.

The dengue awareness and cleaning campaign will be initiated in other at risk districts by the Sri Lanka Red Cross in the near future as well.

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