For the last few months a lot of articles have been pouring in making detailed analysis on the causes of dengue failure both in English and Bangla nationals as well as vernacular dailies. Even some editorials have also been written lambasting the roles of the two Dhaka city corporations in controlling dengue. Many expert opinions have also been passed on what should have been done by the city corporation authorities and bla bla bla. But through those writings what message has been conveyed to the citizens? By perusing such write-ups residents might have formed the notion that since the city corporations are responsible for managing dengue they have no headache about it. Wise saying that you can take a horse to the water but you cannot make it drink water seems to be true to the case of the city dwellers as they know well that biting dengue mosquito can make their lives vulnerable to death but still they get bitten by mosquitoes without taking proper care on dengue prevention techniques.
Contemplating on the ways and means of preventing dengue, I felt the urgency to drop a few lines of my own that seem to be important but missing in those newspapers. Firstly we all should bear in mind that the onus of controlling dengue lays upon all residents and the city corporations’ staffs alike. Both of them have limitations of their works. Killing dengue larva grown in all open public places fall upon the responsibility of the city corporations. But how to kill and who is to kill the larva produced in the rooftop gardens or water deposited in the bath tub or unused toilets or flower vases hanging from the cantilever in private houses? On account of the privacy issues the city corporation mosquito staffs have no access to such places unless the house owner/tenant calls them for doing any help in this regard.
So building up vast awareness among the residents may make half the work done. The rest depends on taking actions by all inhabitants against dengue mosquito stinging. Now two things may happen - either the city corporation authority or the residents may work hard and the other may relax or both may do their works with equal importance. If any party lets loose, dengue mosquito will never be brought to control by the other. Controlling dengue will be easier when both will work in a coordinated way. Chasing and counter chasing from outside and inside house may exterminate the harmful dengue population at a rapid pace.
It’s redundant to say that small winged insects like bees, wasps, bumblebees which often bite human beings give severe pains temporarily through stinging but don’t leave any long term harmful future dangerous impacts for our health. Normally bee species like to live together in their hives and don’t sting people unless they are attacked or mankind poses any visible threat to them. Indiscriminate of sexes they bite people being faced with threats and both of them are equally venomous. In cases of bees their female ones are less or no harmful to mankind as she is the only queen in a group who is always surrounded by numerous male bodyguards. They also tend to bite people during daytime. By contrast, dengue mosquito bears some bizarre characteristics i.e., their male ones are not harmful at all. When it becomes time to lay eggs only female dengue mosquitoes require blood to fertilize their eggs for which they bite people. They come to human living places in order to bite them for collecting necessary blood for the purpose of maturing their eggs. Another contrast is that people don’t instantly get much pain from dengue mosquitoes’ stinging. But through their short shrieking bite they inject dangerous virus into human blood which have debilitating effects in the body.
Now let me ask you the specific question of what could the city corporations do more to control dengue, what have they not done and what was their mistake? The DSCC has so far cleaned up all canals; released ducks, frogs and tilapia fishes in all water bodies under its charge, intensified spraying chemicals for killing dengue larva and adult dengue mosquitoes in all public places. So neutrally speaking nobody should blankly blame the city corporation staffs for dengue fiasco as they have left no stone unturned to rein in stopping the spread of dengue through destruction of their habitats having within their range.
The dark side of dengue mosquito bite is that one dengue vector carrier can bite numerous people a day and other species of no carrier mosquitoes can transmit the virus when they bite an infected people first and then transfuse the infected blood to non-infected people through subsequent biting. So we all should first try safeguarding ourselves from any kind of mosquito bite. If all residents and inhabitants of the city corporations would be adequately conscious we would not have to face such dengue fatality in Dhaka. However taking it for granted that people are not cautious enough City corporations should have played their due roles. For instance every year with the advent of rainy season alongside adopting much awareness building motivational activities city corporations should uproot habitats of dengue mosquito and start combing operation at every household well ahead of time.
Options are there in the existing system of the city corporations so that citizens can easily register any complaint online or communicate any dengue related information to the City Corporation officials vide using mobile apps. Websites of both the DSCC and the DNCC furnish names, mobile numbers and email addresses of all zonal executive officers. Some of them use Whatsapp for ensuring digital attendance of mosquito workers in different wards under their superintendence. Arguably when people see stagnant water on the rooftop of any house either the tenants or visitors can take picture or videos of that spot and send it to the ZEO who can forward the same to the concerned mosquito supervisors quickly for taking immediate necessary actions. Providing important instructions time to time through holding zoom conference can also pave the way of quick dissemination of information among the grass root level mosquito control staffs barring their physical appearance in the meeting during this Covid-19 induced situation. However, the city corporation authority must strongly consider for defraying the monthly cost of internet usage of all ZEOs, AHOs and MSs who currently use internet by spending money from their own pockets for providing such innovative and pro-people service.
I will draw conclusion by saying that unluckily we are facing stiff adversities in controlling dengue as all favourable weather conditions required for dengue breeding prevails in the capital this year. Drizzles plus hot humid and sultry weather have created congenial atmosphere for procreation of huge quantity of dengue mosquito population in Dhaka. So without delay people should wake up from their deep slumber in getting rid of the pesky dengue mosquito menace. We must bear in mind that in order to fight dengue we all should start cleanness drive from our own homes. Not only that we should make it as our perfunctory duty to remove stagnant water in and around our house arena at regular intervals. Only mass awareness and massive action by all against dengue infection can protect us from future dengue pandemic.
The writer is a Deputy Secretary, currently employed as ZEO under DSCC. Email: [email protected]