Health professionals on the Thai Burma border have warned that people are still at risk from dengue fever because of the unusually warm weather and late rains that have allowed the aedes mosquito to continue to breed.
Ms. Aya Tabata, coordinator of the Stop Dengue, Protect Your Family campaign urged people to continue to take precautions.
“People need to get rid of rubbish and waste water around their houses, continue to use mosquito repellents, sleep under a mosquito net (both night and day), and cover and wash out water containers every week.”
The latest figures from Thailand’s Ministry of Disease Control record that as of December 2015 as many as 129,040 dengue cases and 125 deaths.
Ms. Tabata said the Stop Dengue campaign appreciated the help they had received from the community.
“The generosity of a number of individual funders allowed us to extend the duration and the reach of the campaign to help people cope with the dengue risk from the unusual seasonal weather. We are still distributing campaign materials and nets to people at risk.”
Ms. Tabata said that a group of British women based in Bangkok had donated the mosquito nets to the campaign.
“Gale Bailey from the British Community in Thailand Foundation for the Needy has been a tremendous help. The BCTFN helped us when we started in 2014 and again in 2015. They donated mosquito nets and paid for campaign materials to be translated into the Thai language.”
Ms. Bailey said that her organization felt that helping the Stop Dengue campaign was important.
“We initially got involved in the Stop Dengue Protect, Your Family campaign because some of our members had contracted the virus.”
Ms. Bailey said her organization took steps to make sure help is given where it is most needed.
“We wanted our donations to go somewhere it will do the most good, like the dengue campaign. We like to see our donations result in something tangible and are of benefit to the community and the Stop Dengue campaign gave us that on both counts.”
The World Health Organisation classifies dengue as “the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease, with almost half the world’s population now at risk” and “one of the leading causes of serious illness and death among children”.
The WHO estimates that “up to 50 million [dengue] infections occur annually with 500,000 cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever and 22,000 deaths, mainly among children”.
The World Health Organization describes dengue as “a mosquito-borne viral infection causing a severe flu-like illness and, sometimes causing a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue”.
Ms. Bailey said she initially thought dengue fever was similar to having influenza, as the symptoms were similar.
“I didn’t realize it was so painful or deadly. People need to understand what they need to do to stop their families and themselves getting dengue and what to do when they do have it. The Stop Dengue campaign materials covers those points.”
Ms. Bailey efforts to get behind causes that bring benefits to the community have been recognized by the British government and she was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her hard work.
“I was stunned when I was told. Getting the award was incredible. It took a few days for it to sink in.”
The Stop Dengue campaign director, Ms. Tabata said people on both sides of the border are at risk from dengue.
“Disease doesn’t recognize borders and both Thai and Burmese villagers are hit hard most years. Children are especially at risk. The donated nets from B.C.T.F.N. helped our campaign to reach communities at risk.”
Ms. Bailey believes education and more public health campaigns are needed to help communities combat dengue.
“We got behind the Stop Dengue campaign to help people at the village level with mosquito nets and information. I believe the Stop Dengue campaign is important and education and prevention are totally necessary to combat it.”
Ms. Tabata told Karen News that it is important that health officials start planning now and putting in place dengue strategies for 2016.
“The Stop Dengue campaign has now established networks among health workers, schools and in the community. We are now seeking funding for 2106 and 2017 to extend our campaign activities and distribution of public health materials to communities at risk.”