OPINION: Let’s all join hands to get rid of mosquitoes

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times) - Regularly clearing the breeding grounds of dengue mosquitoes is the most effective way of curbing the current outbreak of dengue fever in Laos.

Today, many communities are cutting thick bush and cleaning out water containers both indoors and outdoors every week in an attempt to reduce the mosquito population. This practice backs up the slogan favoured by the Ministry of Health - “No Larvae, No Mosquitoes and No Dengue”.

But even though local communities are working to stem dengue fever, some hotels, hospitals, restaurants, offices and businesses are not throwing their weight behind the campaign to wipe out mosquito breeding sources.

Recently, officials from the Ministry of Health, accompanied by the media, went to check for the presence of mosquito larvae in hotels, guesthouses and restaurants in Vientiane. They found that many were present, which is diluting the efforts of those people who are trying to cut down the mosquito population. Unless mosquitoes can be prevented from breeding, the high number of dengue cases is likely to continue.

The most common places for larvae to be found in the above-mentioned places were buckets and bowls in which lotus flowers were growing. Lotus requires a lot of water to flourish.

It has been recommended that people place tiny guppy fish in containers of stagnant water as they eat mosquito larvae, but in these cases no fish had been added to water containers.

In general, the number of people infected with dengue peaks in July, August and September. So we have another two months or so in which to tackle this deadly virus. The number of people infected with dengue is increasing every day, while the number of fatalities is also increasing. As of July 18, a total of 15,107 people had contracted dengue fever, resulting in 33 fatalities.

Unless everyone gets involved in the joint fight against mosquitoes right away, the number of people who fall ill will continue to increase and hospitals will be overwhelmed. Some hospitals have already asked for donations of beds as more people are admitted for treatment.

In conclusion, in this writer’s opinion, government and private employers, hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, hospitals and educational institutions should set a good example by removing mosquito breeding sources on their premises every week. As we are often told, prevention is better than the cure.

Prevention is the cheapest method, but it requires the full cooperation of every individual. As a member of the public, we need your hands and your dedication to help stop this outbreak of dengue fever. If you have not already done so, please look around and start cleaning out water containers right now. This concerted effort can save lives and is also an opportunity to make merit as a good start to Buddhist Lent.

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