Mozzie models create buzz as volunteers join dengue battle

SINGAPORE - Four football-size mosquitoes have been raising eyebrows at a construction site in Tuas - all in the name of dengue prevention and education.

These mosquito models are the brainchild of the construction site's environmental safety officer Khaja Moinudeen Anvar Hasan.

When the number of dengue cases started to climb in April, he decided to sign up as a dengue volunteer with the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Given that his responsibilities include keeping his workplace pest-free, he felt it was his duty to find out more about the disease.

"One person alone cannot stop dengue. It is important for each of us to do it, and everyone needs to know how," said the 38-year-old from Chennai, India, who has been working in Singapore since 2007.

At an NEA training session, he learnt about how to identify Aedes mosquitoes, the life cycle of a mosquito, and how to prevent dengue from spreading.

He then tasked two colleagues, Mr Arumugam Umapathy, 33, and Mr Udayan Marimuthu, 30, to make models of the male and female Aedes mosquitoes to help educate the construction workers at his workplace.

A model of the Culex mosquito - responsible for chikungunya - as well as that of the Anopheles mosquito, which causes malaria, were also produced.

They spent about a week making the four models, using polyform and wire before painstakingly painting them.

The mosquito models, displayed with posters containing information about the insects and the diseases they spread, have piqued the curiosity of workers.

"Some take photos of the models and ask questions about dengue," said Mr Khaja, who belongs to NEA's 2,000-strong Dengue Prevention Volunteer Group. "Others highlight areas that might breed mosquitoes and even do their own daily mozzie wipeouts. Overall there is greater interest in the topic."

Regular dengue updates, prevention talks, and distribution of educational materials in four languages have also helped keep the China Railway 11 Bureau Group Corporation construction site, where the Tuas West MRT station is being built, dengue-free.

Between June 23 and 28, 643 cases of dengue were reported in Singapore.

In the previous week, there were 842 cases - the highest weekly figure recorded in the year.

In the past six months, more than 11,000 people have come down with dengue, while four have died.

Members of the public who are interested in becoming dengue volunteers may call 1800-CALL-NEA for more details.


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