MANILA, 13 October 2011—The World Health Organization (WHO) today urged countries to take more committed and coordinated action against dengue.
The Regional Committee for the Western Pacific Region, WHO's governing body meeting in Manila, reviewed the anti-dengue efforts and activities of Member States.
Among the estimated 2.5 billion people at risk globally, about 1.8 billion—or more than 70%—reside in the Asia Pacific countries. In 2010, Member States in the Region reported nearly 354 000 cases with 1075 deaths.
The countries that have reported a significant number of cases in the Western Pacific Region this year are Australia, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Viet Nam. However, only Cambodia and Singapore have reported more cases than compared to last year.
WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr Shin Young-soo said, ''We should undertake capacity-building for emerging infectious diseases, which include dengue, in a sustainable and efficient way. ''
The Aedes-aegypti mosquito, the principal vector for dengue fever, continues to expand to new geographical areas that were previously unaffected, further threatening efforts to contain the spread of dengue.
In 2008, the Regional Committee endorsed the Dengue Strategic Plan for the Asia Pacific Region (2008–2015), calling for the strengthening of health systems and support for intersectoral and intercountry collaboration for outbreak response, greater community involvement and timely referral of cases.
WHO emphasized that dengue prevention and control is an intersectoral issue requiring national resources to be mobilized, and requires better regional collaboration and external support.
Dr Shin said, "We should integrate dengue prevention and control activities into proven initiatives such as Integrated Vector Management (IVM) and the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED), which aims to build capacity through system development.''
WHO is supporting integrated vector management training and policy development in countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and establishing a web-based Insecticide Resistance Monitoring Network.
To raise awareness and to advocate for dengue prevention and control, ASEAN Health Ministers together with WHO launched ASEAN Dengue Day on 15 June this year. It will become an annual advocacy campaign for the prevention and control of dengue at regional and national levels. A Jakarta Call for Action on the Control and Prevention of Dengue announced during the regional launch specified the commitment from all stakeholders and called for enhanced collaboration and cooperation from all sectors.
Dengue control is difficult because of the nature of the mosquito, which lives in and around homes and bites during the daytime. Everyone, including governmental agencies, nongovernment agencies, individuals and communities, has a role to play in removing mosquito breeding sites from in and around their homes, schools, workplaces and communities. Added to this, communities need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dengue to seek early treatment should symptoms occur.
Dr Shin said, "Community involvement is a critical element in dengue prevention and control; everyone has a role to play."