5 Jun 2013

Dengue may be declared endemic to Solomons

5:12 pm on 5 June 2013

The head of the taskforce set up to handle Solomon Islands' first major outbreak of dengue fever says the disease may now be endemic to the country.

The mosquito-borne disease has killed six people and is known to have infected 1,200 people since it broke out five months ago.

Dr Tenneth Dalipanda says the number of new cases has started to drop, but the total number of suspected cases stands at more than 5,500.

He told Annell Husband 86% of those infected are from the capital, Honiara.

DR TENNETH DALIPANDA: What we are also aware of and conscious of is an outbreak might be declared. Dengue might be here as a long-term... become endemic to the Solomons, so we will address those criteria as that information becomes available to us.

ANNELL HUSBAND: Would that mean that the taskforce would remain in place if dengue is declared endemic to Solomon Islands?

TD: Yes. They might not meet like we do now - we almost meet daily until a few weeks ago we downgraded to about two times a week. But we might still meet weekly if there's a need.

AH: You talked about vector control and that having been successful. What is the situation with the rubbish collection and clearing up the areas where mosquitoes are likely to breed?

TD: Well, the clean-up campaign is kind of different. Really, sometimes, it's outside of our league. So the ministry does locate the places for clean-up, but there are other authorities involved in the town to ensure that things are done, refuse is collected. There's some challenge in that regard, although they are trying their best to actually move all the solid waste that was piled up during that clean-up. I think it took them several weeks to finally do that. So another authority that does that, so we are struggling to keep this activity moving. What we control is the vector control, the spraying. Despite difficulties in some funding that is coming very late, I think the team are doing quite well under limited resources to do a lot of spraying in Honiara and some provinces that have an earlier increase in numbers. And the other thing, there's still some activities ongoing and some claim to be done with the introduction of a new spraying machine which we're still waiting for. It's mounted on a trailer and driven around a residential site to actually do the spraying.