Dengue Fever Campaign – National Planning

Venue: CWMH Grounds
Date: 15th November, 2014

Distinguished Guests
Members of the Media
Staff of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services
Ladies and Gentlemen

Greetings and a very good morning to you all.

Today is a very important day because we are here to renew our commitment towards preventing further outbreaks of dengue fever:

– dengue fever is a potentially serious viral infection mainly characterized by high fever and severe body aches
– it is transmitted when a person is bitten by a mosquito (which may be carrying the virus)
– this type of mosquito (aedes aegypti or albopictus) is common in our compounds, homes, parks, neighborhoods, bushes and near surroundings

Still fresh in our memories, Fiji most recently had a big dengue outbreak which started in November 2013.

– just over 28,000 people were positively diagnosed with dengue virus by end of the outbreak this year.
– unfortunately, we had a few deaths (14) because of the seriousness of dengue fever.
– dengue is endemic to Fiji which means that we would normally have people getting infected throughout the year (mostly during the rainy season) and we know that we are now into our rainy season….from November to April.

– significantly, the dengue outbreak Fiji just experienced was caused by the dengue type 3 virus which had not been reported in Fiji for over 20 years.
– this meant that a large section of Fiji’s population did not have immunity (body’s resistance) against this dengue type 3 virus since past exposure is necessary to stimulate protective immunity.
– this dengue type 3 virus had also been causing recent outbreaks in some Pacific Island countries over the past 2 years.

So how do we ensure that Fiji is safe from dengue fever and other infections spread by the bite of the mosquito?

It is this very purpose that we are here this morning to launch this national clean-up campaign against mosquitoes:

– the mosquitoes that spread the dengue virus mainly bites during the peak times at dawn (early morning around sunrise) and dusk (immediately after the sun sets).
– these mosquitoes commonly breed in urban areas, around households and most worrying and of concern – this is where most of our population lives.
– artificial containers, like cans, drums and tires, that are allowed to collect water are favoured breeding sites for these mosquitoes.
– the most effective way to prevent dengue fever is to get rid of all mosquito breeding sites….anything that holds water!
– early preparation through regular clean-up and removal of potential breeding sites around and within urban areas is essential in preventing future dengue outbreaks.

What are our main messages for everyone in Fiji this morning?

1. Search and Destroy all potential water-collecting structures within and around your compound – things like tires, drums, tins, bottles, pot-plants – anything that could collect water for the mosquitoes to breed.

2. Be Responsible – do not litter or throw away such water-collecting structures anyhow. Dispose all waste containers properly for the garbage truck collectors.

3. Be Active – join the national campaign by cleaning up your compound. Join others if your neighborhood needs cleaning up!

To everyone listening to this launch program or watching right here at the launch site – you may be wondering why we are launching this clean-up campaign in the CWM Hospital grounds?

Why not in the suburbs – in our densely populated Nasinu or Raiwaqa or in our informal settlements?
Well, for very good reasons:

1. For the recent dengue fever outbreak in Fiji, the Central Division recorded the highest number of patients tested positive for the dengue virus…..and hence most of these patients were cared for here in CWM Hospital

2. Hence, it is a reminder that if we do not follow-up on our campaign messages this morning about cleaning our compounds and neighborhoods of all mosquito-breeding containers…..we could end up here in CWM Hospital with dengue fever!

3. As I speak this morning, our doctors and nurses and other health staff are caring for our loved ones recovering there in the wards of the CWM Hospital. You and I would not want these nasty mosquitoes to be biting them whilst they are recovering from another illness that put them in the wards in the first place!

No! May that never happen! Let us get those nasty mosquitoes!

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in organizing this national launch in our campaign against mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.

My sincere gratitude to staffs of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for this proactive stance in raising awareness about the importance of prevention and fighting against the elements that spread dengue to humans.

In other locations around main centres of our beloved Fiji, there will be similar initiatives simultaneously implemented in this campaign against dengue. We need everyone’s support in this effort – it is our business!

I now have the privilege/honour of declaring and launching this national campaign against mosquitoes and also against dengue.

May I also invite other guests and supporters present here this morning to join me and the staff of CWM Hospital and the Health Ministry in a walk around the hospital premises in collecting any containers that could hold water for mosquitoes to breed.

Vinaka vakalevu and may I wish everyone a successful clean-up campaign.