Jun 17, 2008 (AP)‚ The United Nations plans to launch a massive anti-dengue campaign this week in cyclone-hit areas of Burma where mosquitoes that carry the disease have become a major concern, an official said on Monday.
More than 1700 volunteers will fan out across 22 priority areas in Rangoon, Burma’s biggest city, and the harder-hit Irrawaddy delta applying larvicide, a pesticide that kills mosquito larva, to water containers and other areas where mosquitoes are likely to breed, said Leonard Ortega, the World Health Organization’s dengue expert in Rangoon.
World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund are handling the operation with local aid groups.
"It is a major concern not just because this is dengue season, but because of the displacement of the population, the destruction of houses and because people are more exposed to mosquitoes," Ortega said.
The UN estimates a total of 2.4 million people were affected by the 2-3 May cyclone and warns that more than 1 million of those still need help, mostly in hard-to-reach spots in the Irrawaddy delta.
The cyclone killed more than 78,000 people and left another 56,000 missing.
So far, the number of cases is roughly in line with previous years, Ortega said.
There were 781 cases of dengue fever reported in Rangoon as of 10 June, and 481 cases reported in the delta through the end of May.
State-run media and volunteers from the Myanmar Red Cross and other organizations will be informing the public about the campaign and advising home owners to dispose of old tires, bottles, tin cans and other objects where water can collect and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
The WHO has also provided the government with 200 fogging machines to spray pesticide in areas where dengue cases have been reported, Ortega said, noting that fogging only kills adult mosquitoes but does not destroy the larva.