Public apathy leads to dengue spike

KUALA LUMPUR - Dengue fever has reached pandemic levels due to public apathy.

There were 88,806 cases reported until Nov 8 this year compared to 31,170 in the corresponding period last year.

"Most Aedes breeding grounds formed out of human negligence," said operations director of the Malaysian Integrated Medical Professionals Association (Mimpa) Dr Muhamad Hazizi Muhammad Ha­­sa­ni.

"Residents around dengue hotspots refuse to change their habits and that is causing the number of dengue cases to rise every day," said the doctor who leads 300 volunteers on weekly operations to destroy potential mosquito breeding grounds around Kuala Lumpur.

Dr Muhamad Hazizi claimed that low-cost flats were the most common Aedes breeding ground.

"I guarantee you will find stagnant water below staircase landings, near the central water tank, and dish washing areas," he said.

Dr Muhamad Hazizi said that the Aedes would not breed so easily if residents inspected and cleaned their areas regularly.

He advised flat dwellers to assign teams to check for water ponding at stagnation-prone areas.

"Just spend 10 minutes a week to check whether the central water tank or your toilet is properly sealed," he said.

When asked whether Mimpa was fighting a losing battle, Dr Hazizi replied it was a fact that the organisation had manpower problem.

"We now have 300 volunteers and can only clean four to five hotspots a week," he said.

Dr Muhamad Hazizi said Mimpa was aiming at forming a 1,500-strong volunteer base by collaborating with local universities.

"Universiti Malaya's Faculty of Built Envi­ronment has created a volunteerism course for students who can earn credit points by joining Mimpa's dengue fight.

He added that Mimpa would help Cyberjaya University College organise a similar course for its students.

A report from the Health Ministry showed 169 dengue-related deaths so far this year, compared to 63 in the same period last year.