Problems in Mosquito Control in the City: An Outline of Sustainable Solutions”

18 September 2021
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Press Release
Problems in Mosquito Control in the City: An Outline of Sustainable Solutions”

“Dengue fever is an ancient disease, and scientists have already made vaccination against it” Stated Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, Founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra. He went on to say that it is confounding how Bangladesh hasn’t managed to find a solution to this problem yet. He made his statement at a seminar titled “Problems in Mosquito Control in the City: An Outline of Sustainable Solutions”, which was hosted at the CIRDAP conference center by the Center of Governance studies on the 18th of September 2Press Release021.

Besides Dr. Zafrullah, some other distinguised participants in the discussion were Secretary-General of SWACHIP Dr M A Aziz, General Secretary of Dhaka University Teachers Association Dr Nizamul Hoque Bhuiyan, former chairman of NBR Dr. Muhammad Abdul Mazid, Entomologist at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Khalilur Rahman, Medical Entomologist and Former Principal Scientific Officer of IEDCR Touhid Uddin Ahmed, Medical Entomologist and Faculty Member of National University Dr. G.M. Saifur Rahman, Chief Laporoscopic Surgeon and Chairman of Japan Bangladesh Friendship Hospital Prof. Dr. Sarder A Nayeem, CGS Distinguished fellow  Dr. Sinha M A Sayeed and other specialists in the field of entomology.

CGS chairman and entomologist Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury presided over the event, and the program was conducted by CGS Executive Director Zillur Rahman.

The topic of the conference was on the outbreak of another deadly dengue epidemic along with the global pandemic Covid-19 which has put the lives of city dwellers in dire straits. According to media reports, the rise of dengue infection rates this year is unprecedented.

Medical Entomologist and Former Principal Scientific Officer at IEDCR Touhid Uddin Ahmed made a keynote presentation at the seminar where he outlined the nature of dengue virus and it’s spread in Bangladesh. He reminded the audience that dengue is spread by the aedes breed of mosquitoes, which mostly breed during rainy seasons. He stated that the very first dengue outbreak in Bangladesh was in 2000, and the year with the highest number of infections was 2019. He would also go on to describe that dengue has four different types or serotypes, with the dengue serotype 2 being the most dangerous in Asia region.

The medical entomologist would go on to show data that shows alarming rates of increase in dengue infections in both the cities and rural areas of Bangladesh. According to Touhid Uddin, the reason for this unchecked yearly rise in the dengue epidemic is due to the lack of a national goal set by the government, lack of policies related to mosquito control, lack of guidance among the citizenry to handle the epidemic, and overall lack of a viable plan to deal with the vectors of transmission, namely adult aedes mosquitoes.

Touhid Uddin pointed out that this year’s unprecedented rise in dengue infection was due to the delay of proper preventive measures as soon as the rainy season started in Bangladesh. He also stated that there was no work done to identify hotspots of dengue infections, and no effort was made to target adult aedes mosquitoes, all of which contributed to rapid spread of the dengue epidemic

A plethora of suggested solutions and work plans were highlighted in order to face the ongoing issue. These include: organizing a coalesced effort to kill both adult mosquitoes and larvae instead of focusing on just the larvae; Create regional task forces/commissions with embedded entomologists to track and monitor mosquitoes and reduce spread; Design an integrated vector management/mosquito management system from the ground up to handle this responsibility; Create a nationwide surveillance system of dengue infections along with sero-surveillance and insecticide resistance monitoring; Create a monitoring and evaluation system to see if the efficacy of current methods of mosquito control; engage the common citizens to use appropriate insecticides, and incentivize citizen actions instead of just allotting fines; and incorporate the latest innovation and technologies in mosquito control system instead of relying on inefficient fogging machines.

Entomologist and Chairman of Centre for Governance Studies Dr Manjur A. Chowdhury continued the keynote by pointing out several national laws that need to be revised such as the pesticide act of 2018 and the city corporation act of 2009. He also cited international guidelines such as those provided by International Health Regulations and other World Health Organization recommendations that can be ratified in Bangladesh to expedite the battle against yearly dengue outbreaks. He stressed the importance of a proper integrated vector management system in Bangladesh and stated the need for a proper institution to handle this. He gave the Indian vector control research center as a possible model for Bangladesh to follow to make its own vector control authority. He would go on to clarify that the role of the integrated vector management system would be to reduce the source of vectors (mosquitoes), reduce the lifespan of mosquitoes, and to engineer ways to avoid mosquito-human contact. To this end he demonstrated numerous commercial products which are environmentally friendly and available widely abroad that could be imported to Bangladesh and used by the city corporation and the citizens to control mosquito populations. He also stressed the need to take extra preventive measure at schools and educational institutions where the risk of outbreak is much higher.

Medical Entomologist and Faculty Member of National University Dr G.M. Saifur Rahman gave the third part of the keynote by clarifying various common misconceptions people might have regarding dengue and aedes mosquitoes. He stated that aedes mosquitoes are not generally bigger than other breeds of mosquitoes, and media has a tendency of misidentifying other kinds of harmless insects as mosquitoes. He stated that the life cycle of aedes mosquitoes is around 6 to 8 days, so a routine weekly cleaning regiment needs to be implemented nationwide to clear out water from places which gather water during rain. He showed survey data that shows that aedes mosquitoes primarily breed in Earth jars, open water tanks, buckets, drums, tires, cans and bottles. Other than these kinds of containers, aedes mosquitoes also breed in the water in garden plant pots. He emphasized that throwing out water from these containers is not enough as eggs tend to stick to the walls of containers, so they need to be scrubbed clean weekly. He also stated that dengue fever incubates inside the body for 4 to 7 days before symptoms show, so one doesn't get sick immediately after getting bitten.

Other participants of the discussion echoed the points brought forward by the three leading entomologists and urged the government to take necessary steps to prevent the outbreak of dengue on the population which is already suffering from the covid pandemic.

Secretary-General of SWACHIP Dr M A Aziz and General Secretary of Dhaka University Teachers Association Dr Nizamul Hoque Bhuiyan agreed to most points of the keynote and stated that the entomologists should design a full working plan to implement the preventive methods discussed in the keynote speech and present it to the government. They are confident that the government will take their expertise into account and integrate their expert opinions and advice into the current plan to handle the dengue outbreak in the cities and villages of Bangladesh.