Many aspects of the Sri Lankan Government have become involved with the drive to fight a current wave of dengue cases that have reached over 21,000 cases islandwide. The military has also been mobilized to counter the threat through awareness and cleanup campaigns. Dengue is a hemorrhagic fever which can cause death. It is spread by mosquitos which breed in stagnant waters.
Central Government Mobilized
The Sri Lankan government has involved the Ministries of Health, Education as well as Defence in fighting the current wave of infection. UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena has alleged that the responsibility lies with UPFA led provincial and local governments, saying ”Could anything be as ridiculous as deploying security forces and police to clean up public places, while those responsible for this mess go Scot free?”
The Health Ministry has responded to the threat by deploying Public Health Inspectors to search homes for dengue breeding conditions, giving them the authority to levy fines. These inspectors have been physically assaulted in places like Trincomalee. The Ministry has also warned that people maintaining unhealthy conditions could be liable for six months in jail.
The Education Ministry has issued a circular ordering every school to reserve a half hour twice a week for cleanup of school grounds.
The Police have also set up a special Environmental Protection Unit under Deputy Inspector General of Police Anura Senanayake. The police have already arrested over 300 traders found dumping garbage in front of their establishments.
On the local level, however, there remain numerous problems with garbage collection, drainage and other environmental issues which have yet to be addressed by municipal councils or local bodies. “During some of the surveys conducted in various provinces, it was discovered that more than 50% of households had turned into perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes due to the lack of cleanliness,” said Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena.