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Red Cross scales up dengue prevention

Red Cross
Red Cross

Red Cross scales up dengue prevention, mitigation & awareness, as the death toll surpasses 300, with over 105,000 people affected

As the number
of dengue cases tops 105,000 in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society with
support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies (IFRC) are rapidly scaling up emergency assistance to help contain
one of the country’s worst-ever outbreak of dengue in recent times.
The
Ministry of Health reports that the number of dengue infections is at 105,153
since the start of 2017, with over 301 deaths. The number of cases this year is
already nearly double the number of dengue infections recorded in all of 2016,
when 55,150 people were diagnosed with the disease.
Accordingly,
the Sri Lanka Red Cross has allocated 50 million Sri Lankan Rupees (approx.)
through the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund of the IFRC, to scale up dengue
awareness activities in the next few months. These funds will aim to support
over 310,000 people in severely affected districts of Colombo, Gampaha &Kalutara.
“Dengue is
endemic here, but one reason for the dramatic rise in cases is that the virus
currently spreading has evolved and people lack the immunity to fight off the
new strain,” says Dr Novil Wijesekara, from the Health Department at the Sri
Lanka Red Cross.
Compounding
the crisis, recent monsoon rains and floods have left pools of stagnant water
and rotting rain soaked trash—ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes. 
Ongoing
downpours and worsening sanitation conditions raise
concerns the disease will continue to spread. Teams of Sri Lanka Red Cross
volunteers have been supporting a large-scale government effort to stem the outbreak—providing
patient care at hospitals and going door-to-door with public health inspectors
to raise awareness
about the disease, its symptoms and how to prevent its spread. Volunteers have
also been helping authorities to identify and clean sites where mosquitoes are
breeding.
In
coordination with government partners, Red Cross teams are set to expand
patient care at six priority hospitals and improve or install water and
sanitation at nine medical facilities.
Additional
teams of volunteers will be trained to identify and eliminate vector breeding
sites, and then deploy to 72 vulnerable communities to lead household, school
and community information and clean-up campaigns.

“The size
of this dengue outbreak is unprecedented in Sri Lanka,” says Jagath Abeysinghe,
President of Sri Lanka Red Cross. “It will require a united front in support of
the government’s prevention and control programme and committed community
action to tackle it.”
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