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According an environmental health expert, Mr Veeramohan Supramaniam from Malaysian Association of Environmental Health (MAEH) said, the most effective ways of combating dengue is to beautify the environment with flowering plants. Because mosquitoes would often become sluggish upon feeding on nectar, making them easy prey to bigger insects, spiders, frogs and lizards.
He has been conducting field research and epidemiological studies to learn more about the dengue threat and is engaged in advising the authorities on ways to refine the existing prevention programme, which is based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
He said the WHO guidelines focused on outbreaks at residential units. He acknowledged that programmes based on those guidelines had helped contain the dengue menace, but only to some extent.
One of the programmes he recommends is bio-diversification, and that would include the greening up of urban areas with flowering plants. He said this would have to be implemented by local governments because vacant land and open areas in urban centres are not under the purview of the Health Ministry.
Having already worked with the Kuala Lumpur City Council and having seen great reductions in dengue cases and hot spots, Veeramohan is confident that the pioneer methods that he and his associates advocate will reduce overall cases in a given city or town within weeks.
He said programmes based on the WHO guidelines had resulted in a drastic reduction in dengue cases among people who tended to be confined to the home – the very young, the very old and those with limited mobility.
“Conversely, we found that people who are very mobile, especially school children, are exposing themselves to bites from mosquitoes in the open spaces,” he said.
“These open space mosquitoes are almost never a target of control by the Ministry of Health because open spaces are local authority areas.”
Originally part of the ecosystem of the tropical rain forest, Aedes albopictus’ population has boomed with the removal of its natural predators resulting from the rapid clearing of forests for residential and commercial development, according to Veeramohan.
On top of that, heavy fogging has also reduced the number of dragonflies, which he says is one of the best predators of mosquitoes, both in water and in the air.