Minister of Health, Associate Professor Dr Bounkong Syhavong chaired the annual National Dengue Review Meeting organized by the Department of Communicable Disease Control (DCDC) and Center for Malaria Parasitology and Entomology (CMPE), Ministry of Health. Dengue activities in MOH are also supported by the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE), Department of Health Care (DHC) and Vientiane Capital Health Department and provincial health departments.
Speaking at the event, Dr Bounkong said “DCDC, NCLE and CMPE have been working with central and provincial health departments to closely follow up on trends of dengue cases to determine dengue transmission in high risk areas and to monitor changes in mosquito density. We need to closely monitor circulating dengue serotypes and continue to encourage community participation to destroy mosquito breeding sites.”
Dr Juliet Fleischl, WHO Representative to Lao PDR highlighted that “Dengue is already at alert and epidemic level with most of the cases reported from Vientiane Capital, Attapeu Province and Champasack Province. We seriously need to consider the possibility of a major dengue outbreak this year and take concrete proactive measures to prevent that from happening by destroying mosquito breeding sites and keep a close monitoring on vector surveillance so that we can act before it is too late.”
Dengue outbreaks are cyclical, occurring every 3 to 5 years. The last time Laos had a big outbreak was back in 2013. The situation now is similar to what we faced back in 2013 before the outbreak. At the end of 2012, there was a local dengue outbreak in Luang Prabang Province and a change in the Dengue serotypes reported. At the beginning of 2013, we saw the highest number of dengue cases reported since 2010. Climate variation was also a concern at that time.
Last year, we know that there was a local dengue outbreak in Sokhuma District of Champassack Province, and reported cases from Bolikhamxay and Khammuane provinces. Dengue serotypes reported has changed from DEN 2 and 3 to DEN 1 and 4. The numbers of dengue cases which we are seeing in 2017, which is 215 reported dengue cases with no death, is second only to 2013.
From Vientiane Capital down to the Champasack and Attapeu provinces, many provinces are reporting dengue cases at alert level. We are also seeing changes in climate conditions, all evidences to suggest we may have another dengue outbreak if we do nothing today.
Changes in agricultural practices due to variation in temperature and rainfall can affect the transmission of vector-borne diseases. Better reporting systems are needed to monitor and predict trends, as well as to support surveillance and capture the true burden of the disease.
Since the start of the year, DCDC and CMPE have travelled to the southern provinces to monitor the daily dengue surveillance review. The provincial and district offices in Attapeu and Champassack have been working with communities in regular clean-up campaign to maintain a clean environment that prevent mosquito breeding.
Dengue prevention and control solely depends on effective vector control measures. Behavioral change is a crucial element in vector-borne diseases in understanding dengue prevention and on how to protect themselves from mosquitoes, ticks, bugs, flies and other vectors.
Community need to dispose of solid wastes properly and removing artificial man-made habitats that will promote mosquito breeding. Always cover, empty and clean domestic water storage containers on a weekly basis. Use personal household protection such as window screens, long-sleeved clothes, insecticides treated materials, coils and insecticides.
The Ministry of Health and partners agreed that the annual National Dengue Review Meeting comes at an opportune time to discuss dengue outbreak control activities for this year based on lesson learnt and intervention taken in the past. While the Ministry of Health continue to monitor the situation, it is important for us to stay vigilant and protect ourselves against mosquito bites.
Source: WHO Press Release