During a meeting held at the main auditorium of the Western Province Chief Secretariat, State Minister Dr. Seetha Arambepola, Chairperson of the Dengue Control Expert Committee, stressed the urgency of spreading the message on safeguarding fever patients from mosquitoes. The Minister highlighted that dengue, a disease transmitted through mosquitoes, can be passed from one infected person to another.

Addressing the Western Province sub-committee, responsible for curbing the dengue outbreak, State Minister Arambepola emphasized the need to raise awareness among the public regarding the protection of both dengue-infected patients and individuals with fever until a confirmed diagnosis is obtained.

In response to the escalating dengue crisis, President Ranil Wickremesinghe recently appointed a ministerial committee and an expert committee dedicated to dengue control. The expert committee promptly established nine provincial sub-committees, one of which is chaired by State Minister Dr. Seetha Arambepola.

The primary focus of the Western Province sub-committee’s meeting revolved around taking immediate measures to effectively control the dengue outbreak within a few days. State Minister Arambepola led discussions on the urgency of implementing necessary steps to combat the disease and minimize its transmission.

Furthermore, the State Minister emphasized that the current situation presents an opportunity to promptly address the carriers and levels of the virus through immediate measures.

Instructing the National Dengue Control Unit, guidelines were issued to control dengue in the vicinity of hospitals. The Unit was directed to create designated areas exclusively for fever patients (Fever Corners) as well as for patients diagnosed with dengue, with the aim of preventing the spread of the disease within hospitals. Additionally, steps were advised to disseminate information regarding the risk of dengue transmission, through text messages.

Accordingly, the State Minister has announced a comprehensive plan to allocate five days a week for inspecting schools, places of worship, government and private institutions, commercial premises, and abandoned plots, which are notorious breeding grounds for dengue mosquitoes. To facilitate this effort, the State Minister has enlisted the support of the police and armed forces for spot checks. She has advised the relevant departments to coordinate these inspections effectively.

In an endeavour to control the spread of dengue among school students, particular attention has been given to advising the provision of suitable clothing that covers the limbs. It was emphasized that this should be implemented without imposing any additional costs on parents. The Ministry of Education will play an active role in informing schools about this recommendation.

Furthermore, raising awareness about the use of mosquito repellents has been proposed as an effective measure.

State Minister Seetha Arambepola acknowledged the valuable contribution of the “dengue groups” in the fight against COVID-19. She expressed her commitment to addressing any challenges faced by these groups and emphasized the need to strengthen their efforts to combat dengue. Their support will be crucial in the on-going dengue control measures.

Recognizing the significance of the situation, the State Minister advised local government commissioners to address the issues faced by Medical officers of Health (MoH) and provide them with the necessary facilities. Additionally, it was suggested that regional health directors actively participate in the weekly meetings of the sub-committee, allowing them to remain updated through discussions with Medical officers of Health and Public Health Inspectors (PHI).

The discussion was attended by Western Province Chief Secretary Pradeep Yasaratne, Western Province Provincial Health Services Director Dr. Dhammika Jayalath, Provincial Health Ministry Secretary Gamini Dharmasena, Local Government Secretary A. D. S. Sadika, President’s Senior Assistant Secretary Budhika S. Gamage, Presidential Media Director Mr. Shanuka Karunaratne, members of the Western Province Dengue Control Sub-Committee, and officials from the National Dengue Control Unit.

President’s Media Division (PMD)