With the Zika virus in town amid the battle against Dengue, town and city councils have much work at hand in trying to keep areas clean from the Aedes mosquitoes.
While one says it is a difficult task getting people to change their mindset to stay clean, another is waiting for the Health Ministry’s orders before they combat Zika virus. For now, most councils seem to be doing the same thing they have been doing for years to contain the Aedes mosquitoes.
Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MBPJ) councillor Terence Tan says it is not dealing with the mosquitoes that is difficult, but dealing with the human beings.
This, he was referring to the society’s mindset towards cleanliness where it is almost incorrigible no matter how much the MBPJ has done prior to Malaysia being hit with the Zika virus.
A recent report says that there is only that much that the ministries and local councils can do to contain the virus from uncontrolled spreading, and the rest of it depends on the society and their cooperation.
“We have done a lot in Petaling Jaya areas prior to the Zika virus entering Malaysia, Dengue fever is one of our worries of which the number of cases have significantly gone down.
“We organise gotong-royong (community clean-up programmes), but as soon as the gotong-royong is done, rubbish is seen piled up again,” says Tan.
According to Tan, some of the MBPJ councillors have gone as far as setting up close circuit television surveillance (CCTV) to ‘nab’ those who refuse to abide by cleanliness rules set by the council.
“That is the only way for some of the councillors to catch these people red-handed. Illegal dumping is still a big problem as it only takes one person to start.
“Because the councillors are fed up with people’s mindset and not wanting to work with us to keep the city clean, the CCTV seems to the way out for areas which have severe illegal garbage dumping,” says Tan.
Tan also notes that the MBPJ has a special task force to monitor Dengue cases in affected areas to keep the cases down.
However, without the help of residents in the areas affected, their efforts seem to be going to waste.
“It’s a human being mentality and that’s the sad part, because we cannot control them. Until they buck up, it will be very difficult to keep the city centre clean and free from Dengue, and now we have Zika,” he laments.
Meanwhile, Penang Island Municipal Council’s Department of Environmental Health and Licensing councillor Dr Judy Shoba Robert Rajah says, the council has yet to meet the Health Ministry to discuss about further measures that can be taken to prevent the Zika virus from harming island residents.
“From what it sounds like, it is very similar to Dengue and we have been doing a lot for Dengue cases.
“At the moment, we are continuing with our precautionary programmes that we have done with Dengue and we would encourage for people to carry on with their practices in preventing Dengue fever.
“Until further instruction from the Health Ministry, we are unable to comment on Zika,” says Judy.
She adds that her department has taken extra steps to enter primary schools in the Georgetown area to educate students about Aedes and its dangers to keep the awareness on a high.
“With the primary school children, we are teaching them the process of search and destroy, and also showing them what Aedes mosquitoes are and the areas that are potential breeding ground,” says Judy.
Soo Wern Jun