‘Dengue cases tripled, 9 dead’
Dengue cases in Fiji this year tripled compared to the same period last year.
Acting National Advisor Communicable Disease Dr Aalisha Sahukhan yesterday confirmed that there were 889 cases of dengue from January 1 to October 29 in 2016 while 2699 were recorded in the same period this year.
There has been of nine deaths this year.
“The increase in dengue cases this year was due to the outbreak, the nine deaths were amongst those over the age of 55 years,” Dr Sahukhan said.
“World Health Organisation says that for dengue cases if people have access to good medical care the number of deaths in an outbreak should be below one per cent and for Fiji it was about 0.3 per cent,” she said. According to Dr Sahukhan dengue cases referred from health centres in the Western and Central divisions were admitted at the Colonial War Memorial (CWM) and Lautoka Hospitals.
She said the absolute peak of the outbreak in May had doctors working on 200 cases a week and in the last two months since September they have had six cases per week.
“The numbers have decreased, even though the total number of cases is more than last year,” she said. “The outbreak has come to an end but we still need to be proactive to prevent another outbreak, dengue is endemic in Fiji.”
Meanwhile, Dr Sahukhan revealed that the outbreak of the mosquito borne disease was in May which was outside the normal rainy season.
Dengue fever is known to be related to the changes in weather patterns and climate change.
The reports on ‘Climate Change Impacts Human Health’ as presented in Bonn in May this year showed that Climate change is expected to exacerbate health problems that already pose a major burden to vulnerable populations.
The report shares at least five major insights and one of them showing that many infectious diseases, including water-borne ones, are highly sensitive to climate conditions and climate change lengthens the transmission season and expands the geographical range of many diseases like malaria and dengue. For example, the conditions for dengue transmission are likely to expand significantly across the globe, the report stated.
DENGUE CAMPAIGNS VITAL
With the rainy season in Fiji being from mid-November to mid-April the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is already working on plans to ensure that there would not be another dengue outbreak.
Chief Health Inspector Dip Chand said the number of dengue cases can increase as Fiji heads into the rainy season.
The Ministry of Health is working on creating awareness around the country through the current clean-up campaign launch in the Northern and Western Division. “Clean-up campaigns can drastically reduce the severity of the outbreaks and cases,” Dr Chand said. Deputy Secretary Public Health Dr Eric Rafai said funding and resources have been circulated to the divisions with an objective to prevent any future outbreaks. “Individuals are encouraged to remain active in the clean-up campaigns so we can all enjoy a safer and better living environment,” Dr Rafai said Individuals are encouraged to get involved in reducing mosquito density by cleaning up, destroying breeding sites of dengue mosquitos and avoid mosquito bites through the use of mosquito repellents; remain prepared and be aware of the signs and symptoms of dengue fever.
From left: Deputy Secretary Public Health Dr. Eric Rafai, Chief Health Inspector Dip Chand and Acting National Advisor Communicable Disease Dr. Aalisha Sahukhan at the Ministry for Health and Medical Services headquarters on November 13, 2017.