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DILI, HEALTH

MS Issues Dengue Warning After 80 New Cases in Ermera

MS Issues Dengue Warning After 80 New Cases in Ermera

Health authorities said the fight against coronavirus must be fought alongside Dengue prevention (image/stock)

DILI, 17 February 2020 (TATOLI) — The Ministry of Health (MS) said the Dengue fever situation in Timor-Leste poses a threat to public health after a further 80 people were confirmed to have contracted the disease in Ermera district.

The mosquito-borne virus typically spreads once the wet season sets in. MS Health [Loans] Director, Odete Viegas da Silva said the situation is getting worse each year.

“The Ministry of Health has prepared a team [to] intervene, and spray the mosquitos, and also disseminate information to the [affected] communities,” Mrs da Silva said.

Dengue is common in warm, tropical climates, and has spread rapidly in recent years, according to the World Health Organisation. Infection leads to a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe pain, which requires hospitalisation.

Only severe infections lead to death, according to the WHO, and with early detection and proper treatment, fatality rates can be kept as low as one per cent.

Odete da Silva said while Timor-Leste cannot let its focus on coronavirus distract from preventing dengue from spreading beyond the mountainous Ermera District.

“Sometimes [dengue] appears in other districts, but our [focus] for all districts, [is] continuing to collect information for the Epidemiology Vigilance Department.”

“[That team] will detect all cases that appear… and the department will immediately contact health workers in the field, at any time of day.”

“And now we are distributing [public health] information not only about corona virus but also for dengue,” she said.

Malaria cases decline in Oe’cusse

Meanwhile in Timor-Leste’s enclave of Oé-cusse the authority for the special administrative region, RAEOA-ZEEMS, has issued data showing an improvement in the fight against another mosquito-borne disease: malaria.

Odete Viegas da Silva from the Ministry of Health said the number of cases of malaria in have begun to decline, compared with data from previous years.

“There were 88 cases detected in 2016; a total of 78 cases [transmitted] from within Timor and ten cases that came from neighbouring areas, such as Atambua and Kupang,” she said.

Yet in 2017, there were just 10 cases of malaria detected in the region; and another two cases in 2019. The Ministry of Health said the four cases detected in 2018 originated outside Timor-Leste.

RAEOA health workers are distributing mosquito nets to communities in Oé-Cusse communities such as Nitibe, Oe-Silo, Pasabe and Pante Makasar, in a bid to stop the virus spreading further.

It its peak in 2006, malaria affected more than 220,000 Timorese, according to the Timor-Leste government. In order to meet its goal to rid the country of malaria completely by 2021, the RAEOA Health Service is working with specialist health NGOs, the Timor-Leste Medical Forensic Protocol, Sri Lankan public health Professor Rajitha Wickremasinghe, and other malaria experts.  They will be joined by human resource specialists from India to help evaluate the program.

A panel of international experts has also been observing the containment efforts and public health messages, and is expected to present their observations in Dili on Friday, Mrs da Silva said.

Journalist: Felicidade Ximenes
Editors: Robert Baird; Rafy Belo
Translation: Nelia Borges

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