Fifty-ninth session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, 22-26 September, 2008, Manila, Philippines
MANILA, 26 September 2008—The World Health Organization warned of a spreading threat of dengue outbreaks in the Asia Pacific Region unless a more comprehensive approach to control is urgently taken.
WHO said the Aedes-aegypti mosquito, the principal vector for dengue fever, is expanding to new geographical areas that were previously unaffected. Of an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk globally, about 1.8 billion—or more than 70%—reside in Asia Pacific countries.
With further outbreaks expected throughout the region, WHO urged more collaborative activities in addressing dengue, which often attracts attention only during outbreaks, when it is often too late for effective action.
Against this backdrop, the Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, WHO's governing body in the Region, today endorsed the Dengue Strategic Plan for the Asia Pacific Region 2008–2015. The move is considered a critical step towards securing political commitment and the allocation of resources by Member States to address the increasing threat from dengue.
Over the past three decades, the mosquito that causes dengue fever has been thriving because of human activities, such as rainwater harvesting and inappropriate disposal of used tires and containers, and the rapid growth of urban areas. Recent changes in weather patterns are also expanding the habitat range of the dengue mosquito.
The dengue plan calls for:
- concrete action to reduce case fatality rates;
- guidance on environmental management of urban development and vector-control measures;
- educating people on recognition of dengue fever and the need for prompt medical care;
- improved surveillance and data reporting.
WHO urged countries to ensure high level political commitment so that adequate human and financial resources are made available for dengue prevention and outbreak response, including exploring possible opportunities to piggy-back on existing public health initiatives.
The revised biregional Dengue Strategic Plan was developed with the active involvement of WHO Member States, the WHO Regional Offices for the Western Pacific and South-East Asia and several leading experts in the field.
The Regional Committee, WHO's governing body in the Region, is meeting in Manila from 22 to 26 September to review WHO's work. Some 200 representatives from the Western Pacific Region's Member States are attending the meeting.