By Zafran Packeerally – Red Cross Communications Officer in Sri Lanka
Ampara, Sri Lanka - The dengue epidemic still remains a major health hazard in many parts of the island. Consorted efforts are being made by the government health authorities, public and private organizations, and schools among others by extending their fullest support towards achieving the goals of National Dengue prevention program launched by the Ministry of Health.
According to the latest data released by the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health, nearly 3202 Dengue related cases and 31 deaths have been reported from the beginning of this year to date.
In Ampara 19 dengue related cases have been reported from the beginning of this year to date. Having considering this situation, another phase of the Red Cross Dengue Prevention Programme was launched in the Ampara area this Monday (April 04).
This is a collaborative effort with the Ministry of health and local authorities including the Pradeshiya Sabha's in the area.
The main aim of this campaign is to create continues awareness on this deadly epidemic. The programme advices the public about the need for disposal of garbage properly, avoiding the collection of water where dengue mosquitoes breed, through distribution of leaflets, displaying posters and banners.
"Well it's nice that someone is at least concern about things like this" says Lakshmi who is a mother of two. "I am now more concern about hygiene as I have a 5 year old child; I need to make things safe for her"
The Red Cross Hygiene Promotion Team comprising volunteers from the area also conducting several programmes to educate school children and walk from house to house to disseminate the message which is seen as the best practice of educating the public.
"If we do this it's for our people" says Mohommad Haris who is volunteering today with SLRCS to promote the message of safe hygiene. "I am happy that the Red Cross is taking the initiative on this"
The Red Cross team distributed 10,000 awareness stickers and pasted in passenger busses, conducted Shramadhana Cleanup, as well as launched a Tuk Tuk campaign.
The MOH with fogging and spraying chemicals and Pradeshiya Sabhas staff and trucks are involved in the overall garbage collection after the community groups clean up campaigns.
"...So far over 5000 families have been reached so far and .by the end of the four's activities over 15000 families will have been reached directly with dengue prevention messages and activities..." said Rebecca Kabura, IFRC - WatSan & HP delegate in Sri Lanka.
The programme stresses some of the most-important aspects such as keeping the environment free of discarded small containers including yoghurt cups, coconut shells, polystyrene containers, pieces of polythene etc, proper garbage collection and disposal, and the need for fogging in dengue-affected areas for effective dengue control.