PA to recruit 10,000 volunteer 'dengue fighters'

SINGAPORE - Efforts to tackle the dengue outbreak will receive a boost with 10,000 volunteers to be recruited under a new initiative launched recently.

The "dengue fighters" will be organised by the People's Association (PA) to complement house visits by National Environment Agency (NEA) officers.

Volunteers, who include grassroots leaders and town council cleaners, will go door to door in 9,000 public housing blocks and 1,000 private estates to distribute mosquito repellent, and share tips and information with residents on dengue prevention.

PA chief executive director Ang Hak Seng said he hoped to achieve a "higher penetration" of public health messages while creating a "greater sense of community ownership" by appointing a volunteer for each block.

"We need a concerted community effort that covers every block and neighbourhood in Singapore," he said.

The new volunteers will share the workload with current volunteers under the NEA's own Dengue Prevention Volunteer Group.

This has some 2,000 volunteers who have visited more than 700,000 homes since the start of the year.

The "dengue fighters" will be trained to recognise disease symptoms, spot potential breeding sites, and learn dengue preventive skills.

Singapore is experiencing its worst outbreak of dengue fever, which has no cure.

More than 11,000 people here have been infected so far this year. The disease usually peaks between May and October.

There have been four deaths - three Singaporeans and an Indonesian, all men, aged 20 to 86.

Said volunteer Eileen Chan, 68: "We want to be able to keep our neighbourhood safe. This is our home and our community and we have a responsibility to look after it."

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