Just a month after declaring March National Clean-Up Campaign month, Fiji’s Health Ministry reported that the number of suspected cases had leveled off, whereas a single week in February had seen 1,200 new cases.
Fiji’s dengue outbreak began in December 2013 and by the end of that month, 283 cases had been recorded. When 123 new cases were recorded in the first three days of January, the World Health Organization quickly raised concerns about the risk posed by the rare strain of dengue fever affecting Fiji – one which hadn’t been seen there for 20 years.
By the end of February there had been 3,802 confirmed cases and eight deaths. To make matters worse, Fiji was hit by Tropical Cyclone Kofi, bringing with it heavy rains and extensive flooding.
To deal with the situation, community groups, government, and stakeholders were mobilized to help in the clean-up campaign. Extensive planning brought task forces together to systematically remove any rubbish that might provide a breeding place for the dengue mosquitoes. 45 tons of tires, 268 kilos of drums, 24.5 tons of other containers, and 77.15 tons of other kinds of waste were collected between March 8-22.
Elsewhere, fliers and continual media reporting on dengue raised awareness, advocating prevention and precaution.
Numbers continued to rise during March with over 15,446 suspected cases notified by the end of the month. But the pace was beginning to slow. The last week in March saw 400 fewer cases.
Then on World Health Day, April 7, Health Minister, Dr. Neil Sharma, was able to announce: “We have 12 deaths recorded from mid-March and the number of clinically suspected cases remains at 20,204.” He attributes the decline to the massive clean-up drive.
Fiji has shown how communities are not helpless in the face of dengue. Its clean-up campaign made a real difference, stopping dengue in its tracks.
What are you doing in your community to prevent the spread of dengue?