Aiding Colombo’s deadly battle against dengue

Friday, 8 October 2010 21:49 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The 2010 ‘Panadol Sahana Balakaya’ – a two-week long clean-up drive of the City of Colombo – recently concluded its first phase of activity.

It involved members of Rotary District 3220 Sri Lanka, Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors, Police, corporate and other volunteers in addition to children drawn from 143 schools in Colombo, who joined hands with local Public Health Inspectors and Municipal Health Workers of the Municipal Council of Colombo.

Official data indicated the number of confirmed cases in July 2010, when the ‘Panadol Sahana Balakaya’ came into action was 434 and the number of cases for the month of August was declared at 260 (a reduction of 67%). The Panadol Sahana Balakaya is thus proud to have played a part in the obtaining these results.

The approach that defined the uniqueness of the ‘Panadol Sahana Balakaya,’ was that in addition to house-to-house visits that covered all 47 wards in the city of Colombo, the ‘Panadol Sahana Balakaya’ also engaged in a mindset change of Colombo residents via grassroots education on the causes of dengue and the breeding habits of this mosquito.

It was ably assisted by an informative television ad campaign sponsored by Panadol, which highlighted the link between careless waste disposal in the home and how dengue breeding grounds are created. The commercial, in order to transmit the urgency and seriousness of the issue, utilised graphic visuals in order to drive home the message that the first step in eradicating dengue was in the home.

In addition to the distribution of leaflets and educational activities (conversations), the ‘Panadol Sahana Balakaya’ also focused their attention on flat roofs, poorly maintained gutters, water containers, unkempt gardens, tree holes, construction sites and abandoned lands, that all played host to this deadly infliction.

Chief Medical Officer of the Colombo Municipality Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam commenting on the results said: “The density of mosquitoes in the Colombo Municipal Area has dropped significantly, complemented by also a reduction in the number of dengue cases. The efforts of this force in also teaching Colombo residents on effective and healthy household environment management practices, is also a commendable action in ensuring the ‘Panadol Sahana Balakaya’ was an effective partner in contributing to these results.”

Sachi Thomas, Managing Director of GSK Consumer Healthcare – Sri Lanka commenting on the latest results said: “Panadol is happy to have partnered with the members of Rotary District 3220 Sri Lanka, alongside a host of volunteers, in order to make a significant contribution in aiding the mindset/perception change of Colombo residents as to the consequences of this deadly disease.”

“It is my sincere hope that Colombo residents are now more aware of the nature of dengue and support all stakeholders involved, especially the Colombo Municipality. As the monsoon prepares to lash the City of Colombo again, a concerted multi-party effort by the public, private entities and the state is required in order further cement the results achieved thus far.” Chairman, Dengue Awareness Campaign Colombo City, Rtn. Dr. Yusry Mohideen of Rotary Mid Town, District 3220 Sri Lanka said: “Rotarians believe that it’s important to respond in a timely manner to humanitarian causes that save lives and this is one cause that requires everyone’s involvement. The ‘Panadol Sahana Balakaya’ as the numbers indicate has made an effective contribution in part, in helping the Colombo Municipality and the residents of all the 47 wards learn about and implement healthy household environment practices. We thank and look forward to the support of all of our project partners and stakeholders, especially the citizens of Colombo, in the future as well. Every citizen must be responsible to protect each other by keeping their own environment clean and to promote and safeguard the cleanliness of the city.”

This collective effort by both the State and private sector to control the spread of dengue in high risk areas of Colombo is in its second year, having undertaken clean up drives targeting schools and all premises within a radius of 200 meters of these schools in highly populated areas in both Colombo and Kandy in 2009.