Lao and international health officials have met to mark Asean Dengue Day as the virus continues to reach epidemic levels in Laos and the region.

The meeting, held yesterday in Vientiane, aimed to find ways to fight against dengue, with a total of 7,920 reported cases nationally this year, leading to 31 deaths.

This year’s figures to date are three times the number of cases reported for the same period in 2010, and eight times that of the same period in 2012. Most deaths from dengue fever have involved children under the age of 15.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Laos, Dr Liu Yunguo, said the information clearly indicated that dengue was now an epidemic in Laos.

“Laos might encounter the worst dengue epidemic in its history. It will be much worse than the dengue epidemic experienced back in 2010 if there are no effective actions taken,” he said.

Dr Yunguo said there could be serious economic and social consequences for Laos including deaths, overloaded central, provincial and district healthcare facilities and incapacitated workers.

“The strong tourism industry Laos currently has will suffer if travellers do not visit because of the high risk of dengue infection and serious illness,” he said.

WHO has recommended the government takes immediate action to reduce the risk of dengue transmission and mitigate the impact of a dengue epidemic, with the leadership of local government seen as critical.

Local governors are called on to activate their local communicable disease control committees, closely monitor the local dengue situation, promote awareness campaigns, coordinate a multi-sectoral and development partner response and mobilise resources.

“Community action for larvae control in both households and public places is important to mitigate the dengue situation in the country,” Dr Yunguo said.

He said the WHO was committed to continuous support for government action in relation to dengue prevention and control in Laos.

Director General of the Ministry of Health’s Communicable Disease Control Department, Dr Bounlay Phommasack, said cooperation from private and government sectors was required in the fight against dengue.

Responsible parties included crèches, kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools, universities, bus stations and factories. In communities, the cooperation of villagers is necessary to remove mosquito breeding grounds.

Family members, family heads, village heads, associations, charities and monks are also important in the battle against the potentially fatal virus.

“The mentioned people and organisations are urged to destroy mosquito breeding sources every week,” Dr Bounlay said. He said no larvae meant no mosquitoes, which meant no dengue feve r.

The media is advised to continuously campaign in the fight against dengue. Deputy Minister of Health, Associate Professor Dr Bounkong Syhavong, Vientiane Vice Mayor, Mr Saithong Keodouangdy, representatives from the Asian Development Bank in Laos and concerned personnel also attended the one-day event.

Source: Vientiane Times
June 20, 2013