Dengue carrying vector Aedes mosquito has swooped upon people with its bare fang stinging and pinching men, women and children of all ages and classes around the country after getting favourable weather and ground for its breeding in this season of the year. It’s true that primarily the onus of keeping Dhaka city dwellers in peace and happiness to a great extent lies upon the city corporation provided that the residents also abide by some health rules directed by the latter. However combating dengue mosquito requires multiple actions from multiparty stakeholders. First of all, city corporation staffs and residents of DNCC and DSCC must be well motivated and must work together sincerely, honestly and relentlessly in order to root out dengue menace from the society. Effective motivation through hectic campaign of both the city corporation staffs and city dwellers can create vast awareness among the common people about the breeding source and nature of dengue mosquito.Secondly individual stakeholders have their own limitations. And when both will reach to a common understanding that it is near-impossible for any single party to eliminate Aedes mosquito from the city without getting full cooperation and support from the other party subverting dengue menace will be more convenient. For instance, City Corporation can destroy Aedes breeding spots by cleaning up drains and open spaces but what would happen to mosquitoes living in bedrooms of individual house owners or in the water-logged roof-top of residents. Conversely let us suppose that all individual houses are cleaned up and no stagnant water inside there but City Corporation stopped spraying larvicidal (larva killing insecticide) or adulticidal (adult mosquito killer insecticide) at a regular interval the consequence would be disastrous and unimaginable.
An all-out onslaught on the breeding grounds of Aedes mosquito must be started from people of all walks of life at the same time. Action should be comprehensive i.e., no single potential space of its habitat should be left untraced and untouched ranging from water stranded inside flower vase, unused tires, water reservoir used in under construction buildings, abandoned tin urns, plastic bottle, cans, packets of biscuits/chips, hole of tree trunks, abandoned or broken utensils, deserted shell of green coconuts, basement of buildings, car parking places, buckets, drums, polythene, refrigerators and air conditioners. Thus beginning two-pronged attack upon the Aedes is the need of the time and can ensure prevention of their growth en masse.
Though late it’s a matter of optimism that public perception about dengue outbreak has started to change. Earlier they thought that it was the sole responsibility of City Corporation alone to annihilate the Aedes from the city. Another prevalent perception is that city corporations don’t do any work. Such a surmise is totally based on wrong understanding. As the City Corporation has inadequate manpower compared to what is needed for discharging its full service people doesn’t see them in plane eyes. What DSCC has achieved may not be apparently visible to people but more than that is what situation could happen had the DSCC not discharged its current functions. Now residents have come to understand that right to their privacy can’t be broken by others at any costs and that is why City Corporation has no entrance to some places of their houses where mosquito can grow up easily and quite comfortably in silence.
Comprehending the limitation of DSCC and DNCC recently different ministries of the government including MOPA have come forward by extending their support and cooperation to the DSCC by employing some of their officials in aid to city corporation works and that will go a long way towards boosting the morale and impetus of the existing manpower. Now the monitoring activities will get momentum anew. Already teams have been formed in every ward of DSCC under the leadership of official deployed from MOPA who will carry out his duties in consultation with the elected councillor of the ward. Comprised of 8-10 members including conservancy inspector, mosquito supervisor, thana level representative of primary education directorate, thana level representative of the secondary education directorate, thana health inspector/assistant, scout representative etc. the ward level team has been regarded as “ward dengue prevention cell”. Ward councillor has been kept as the advisor of this team. Main duty of ward dengue prevention cell is to create awareness on dengue fever and Aedes mosquito among the house owners by visiting each individual household and their job description also entails destroying breeding grounds of Aedes larva found in each household.
Currently Dhaka South City Corporation has been simultaneously running four programmes in a single day for ridding people of the dengue menace. Larviciding, adulticiding, house inspection and conducting of mobile courts are the major operations that the DSCC hope would relieve people soon from the deadly outbreak of dengue in the city. Mosquito supervisors along with mosquito workers start their day by spraying larva killing medicine in different drains and waterlogged places at 8 am in the morning and this activity continues till 11 am. Then they merge with the ward dengue cell and conduct drives to each and every house unless the number count reaches to 60. Once again the same mosquito personnel have to carry out adulticiding program beginning at 4 pm and ending at 7 pm. Lately DSCC has employed its own monitoring officers for supervising and reporting activity of ward dengue cell as well as performance of persons involved in larvicidal in the morning and adulticidal through fogging in the afternoon.
By the same token, a mobile court headed by an executive magistrate in each zone along with law enforcing agencies concerned moves toward houses where larvae of dengue mosquito still remain unaffected. Fines and imprisonment in default of payment of fine are awarded to the miscreants who care a fig for the urge of the City Corporation and rear up larvae of Aedes mosquito in their houses. It has been noticed that conducting mobile courts on a regular basis may work well as a deterrent to the people who are aberrant and show thumbs to the law enforcers.From the point of view of prevalence of larva, most of the under construction buildings have dark, damp and shabby underground and 1-2 feet water stagnant in the basement and Aedes mosquito likes these neglected, sombre, quiet places for laying eggs and these places may be ascribed to be the breeding grounds of mosquitoes in general and Aedes mosquitoes in particular. And in zone 3 of Dhaka south city corporation at least five building owners and contractors including some government sight engineers have been fined repeatedly so far ranging from taka 50,000 to 100,000 each for making them aware of the spread of dengue disease dangerous to public life on account of their negligent acts but still they don’t seem to be careful enough of the harms that they are knowingly or unknowingly doing to others.
Last but not least, the Aedes mosquito has some specific breeding traits which definitely signal a cause of concern for all of us. Eggs of Aedes mosquito, once laid, can survive without water for almost a year and can come in contact with water being carried by air. Fertilisation of eggs takes place when they are soaked in stagnant water. In favourable environment the eggs turn into larvae within two to three days and larva transfigures into pupa and finally comes out as an adult Aedes mosquito within the next 2-3 days. Utter consternation is that all eggs don’t turn into larva at a time rather they are incubated at different times. As a result larvicidal or fogging method alone can never become so successful in combating Aedes mosquito as nobody knows when the other eggs are going to grow into larva, pupa and adult mosquito. Therefore source reduction is the only way to fight against spread of Aedes.
Ordeals of city corporation staffs and officers are yet to come to an end. Eid-ul-Azha this year brought no glee for them nor did they celebrate it with their near and dear ones for their leaves were cancelled earlier. All kinds of leaves including the weekly ones have been rescinded. passing busy time working day and night sometimes killing Aedes larva sometimes killing adult mosquitoes and the other time cleaning wastes from the DSCC brought no respite for them and being exhausted with the untiring efforts they are providing for the last couple of months for reducing sources of dengue mosquito they are now somewhat dejected. Having no incentives for their frantic endeavours and additional duties, lack of safety arrangements for their duties, negative comments or criticism from mass public and no appreciation from higher authorities often make them lackadaisical towards their job. Putting their family welfare aside very often they are discharging their duties properly.
Lately some members of the family of two zonal executive officers of DSCC were diagnosed with dengue positive and were hospitalised. My only child belonged to one of such unfortunate persons who are still languishing for treatment in the BSMMU being infected with dengue fever. While coming to and going back from office I get a chance to meet him. For the last five days he has been lying in the hospital bed along with his mother. Tears were rolling from her mother when his platelet count reduced to 90,000 from 150,000 all of a sudden. Advising her to pray to almighty Allah for his early recovery and not to be too much worried as the situation was not so grave I conveyed one kind of solace to her and after giving mental strength to my son I stepped out of the hospital silently in the twilight of that day. Conclusion may drawn by making a fervent appeal to people for changing their negative attitude towards city corporation workers who are mere cog in the wheel rather they deserve some appreciation from all quarters for their sacrifice and good deeds.
The writer is a Deputy Secretary, Zonal
Executive Officer, Zone-3, Dhaka
South City Corporation.
Email: [email protected]