That the anti-mosquito campaign is a failure is a foregone conclusion, proved not only by the ever- increasing number of cases of dengue in spite of millions being spent by the government but also by the way government officials go about taking action in fits and starts.

Once in a blue moon, there will be a flurry of activity from the officials and every house in a particular area will be visited and those who had even a coconut shell with stagnant water will be hauled up in court to pay heavy fines. Fair enough. But the mosquitoes must be having a hearty laugh since the very drains just outside these same houses will be full of muck and stagnant pools of water.

True that dengue mosquitoes breed in clean water – thank God for that – and do not breed in the drains since they are not clean and often running water may wash away the mosquito’s eggs. But a dirty drain smells horrible and breeds many other germs. And the efforts of the municipality officers are half baked, half hearted and show a lack of commitment.

Speaking to an officer I pointed out that their actions are half hearted and not committed to cleanliness as a whole and what he said summed it all. He said, “Eva Apey wada novey!” – that is not our job – meaning my job is only to catch as many as possible culprits. If I don’t educate them, I’ll catch even more next time!

If the officers who visit are more concerned about cleanliness in the lanes and about actually eradicating mosquitoes, their attitudes will be totally different. Instead of gleefully issuing warrants to the householders, feeling grand that they ‘caught’ so many errant householders, they would have taken a holistic approach.

They would have first made sure the drains are clean for that’s where most mosquitoes breed.

I know of householders who clean the premises only when they hear that health inspectors are in the area and if they don’t visit the houses they express a sigh of relief and leave everything as it is. In fact, if the process was done properly then the householders will actually invite the inspectors in and ask them to check out the premises for often we fail to see mosquito breeding areas in our own premises. Now and then the Municipality wakes up to the fact that the drains in the lanes need cleaning and there is a flurry of activity, a whole battalion of labourers and supervisors will land on the lane, removing overgrown weeds and the garbage obstructing the flow of water in the drains. For a full day there will be activity and then, all what they removed will be dumped in heaps right along the curbs and they will disappear.

When questioned they will assure that these will be removed during the course of the day, but alas! The heaps will remain for days to come, inconveniencing the pedestrians and the motorists. Then little by little they are kicked back into the drains by vehicles, the pedestrians and the rain. The drains will be blocked even worse than before and we can rest assured the municipality workers will not be sighted for at least another three months!

There is no planning, no coordination between the labourers and those in charge of the municipality vehicles, and no consistency in the project

Until then,it’s party time for the mosquitoes and goodbye to the eradication.

Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai


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