Holistic approach needed to effectively fight mosquito menace

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 4:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 9:21pm

I refer to the report, “Hong Kong hygiene authorities carry out anti-mosquito operation after insect tests positive for Japanese encephalitis” (August 5), about the mosquito problem in the northeast New Territories.

I agree with Dr Owen Tsang Tak-yin, of the Hong Kong Society for Infectious Diseases, that the government should keep a close eye on the development of the mosquito problem. It was right to take preventive measures, but I think there is more that it could do. Southern house mosquitoes are common near muddy or dirty water and carry viruses which can prove fatal. Food and environmental hygiene officials should establish a task force that will be in charge of anti-mosquito operations in each of Hong Kong’s 18 districts. Targets should be established for controlling mosquito numbers.

I also think road sweepers have an important role to play and more of them should be recruited. They should also be given a pay rise and extra fringe benefits. And it should be emphasised that quality is as important as quantity. The street sweepers should be given guidelines, reminding them of the importance of clearing muddy and dirty water from pipes, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

It is also very important to raise public awareness. While I recognise that pig farmers in the northeast New Territories must be made aware of the risk posed by these mosquitoes, the public should also be educated so that citizens can recognise they, too, have to act responsibly. The government should organise a coordinated advertising campaign in newspapers and on TV, reminding citizens to, for example, remove muddy water from underneath flowerpots.

It can try to incorporate anti-mosquito concepts into RTHK dramas to get the message across more effectively. People need to take a holistic approach. Taking precautions against mosquitoes lowers the chance of infection.

Barry Tong, Ngau Tau Kok