What Hong Kong could learn from Taiwan in the battle against dengue fever
I am writing in response to your report, “Dengue fever-carrying mosquitoes more widespread in Hong Kong, government urges community action” (August 21).
The area of Hong Kong infested by the dengue fever vector, the adult Aedes albopictus mosquito, was larger this July than in the previous 11 years, and there have been at least 24 confirmed local cases of the disease. That is why health chiefs have sought community efforts to curb the outbreak.
I believe the authorities could take a lesson on fighting dengue from Taiwan, which also has a subtropical climate and has faced serious seasonal outbreaks of the disease. They have a national multi-tier programme to collect information and list the main breeding grounds for the vector, so that these can be eliminated. Besides, they supervise and inspect the result of removal of breeding sources periodically, for effective prevention.
Training is also provided to citizens and volunteers on eliminating the breeding sources overall. This makes the prevention of infestation more effective. Education provided to village chiefs, local officials, sanitation squads, and community volunteers also raises public awareness of dengue fever and potential hotspots.
This shows how community efforts are important. As locals will know better which parts of the district have more serious mosquito problems, they can help identify these places and carry out preventive measures, such as removing stagnant water to stop mosquitoes from breeding. This should become a regular habit of every citizen.
The problem of mosquitoes and dengue fever can be tackled better if the government and community works together.
Peco Mak, Tseung Kwan O
Why not use GM mosquitoes to fight dengue?
Amid the outbreak of dengue fever in Hong Kong, the government is using conventional methods to fight the threat posed by the virus-carrying mosquito.
The WHO says two new tools for suppressing the Aedes aegypti mosquito populations – the primary vector for not just dengue, but also Zika and chikungunya – have been recommended for pilot testing. In Queensland, Australia, male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (which don’t bite) sterilised with a bacteria were released into trial zones. They mated with the local female population to produce eggs that didn’t hatch, leading to a significant drop in the number of mosquitoes.
And in Brazil, genetically modified male mosquitoes carrying a self-limiting gene were used in the fight against viruses transmitted by the pest.
The Hong Kong government talks about innovation and technology. Will it be open to the adoption of such new technology in the interest of public health?
Joe Lee, Laguna City