LAHORE: Dengue is here to stay and the best way to minimise the threat of the disease is to teach people to keep their homes clear of any place for mosquitoes to breed.
This was the message that staffers of the Environment Protection Department and environmental activists gave to citizens in a walk here in Gulberg on Sunday. Some 200 people marched from the EPD office near Gaddafi Stadium to Hafeez Centre on Main Boulevard via Liberty Roundabout, handing out pamphlets to pedestrians and motorists and waving placards along the way.
The three-page pamphlets included preventive measures against dengue, such as keeping places clear of water and applying mosquito repellent to exposed skin, and also highlighted government efforts to control the disease. About a thousand leaflets were distributed between 10am and noon.
The walk was led by Environment Protection Agency Director General Maqsod Ahmed Lak. The participants included Sajjad Saleeem Hotiana, a former EPD secretary and now chief secretary of Gilgit-Baltistan, MPA Khawaja Imran Nazir, ECO Green Society President Akhtar H Awan and IUCN expert Abida Ayub
Hotiana said that dengue was an unfortunate reality which was here to stay, as was evident from other regions where dengue epidemics had broken out. “This makes awareness and source elimination [of mosquitoes] an absolute necessity,” he said. “It is better to invest and use resources to eradicate conditions suitable to the dengue mosquito as it is much cheaper than treating people sick with the disease.” He said that such walks helped educate people about what they could do on their own to minimise the risk of infection, as the government lacked resources.
EPD Secretary Saeed Wahla said that last year, almost 60 per cent of dengue larvae were detected in residential areas, which meant it was essential that the general public participated in dengue prevention measures. “It is not possible for the government to go door to door to find larvae,” he said. “I hope this campaign will result in some positive contributions from the public at large.”
EPD official Naseemur Rahman Shah said dengue larvae had mostly been detected this year in Data Gunj Baksh Town, Wagha Town and Ravi Town.
Eight ‘dengue squads’ of the EPD – each squad includes an entomologist, two inspectors, a driver, two helpers, and an EPD deputy director – also participated in the walk. During the last 10 months, the squads have inspected 1,113 sites in Lahore, including 614 tyre shops/warehouses, 152 junkyards, 65 nurseries and 102 under-construction sites. They served 479 notices and sealed 61 warehouses for leaving tyres, plastic scrap and plant pots in the open. They sealed 79 tyre stores or junkyards where dengue larvae were found.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2012.