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WHO Warns Of Increased Risk Of Vector-borne Diseases In Tsunami-affected Areas

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned about increased risk of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever across tsunami-affected areas in Southeast Asia. Nearly four weeks after the disaster struck the region on 26 December, the organization is strengthening its disease surveillance, stagnant water conditions creating conditions for mosquito vectors to multiply to sufficient levels, to potentially cause severe public health problems.

Most affected countries in the region are endemic for dengue fever and malaria except the Maldives, which has no malaria cases but does have dengue cases. With the onset of the rainy season, particularly in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, a rise in the cases can be expected at this time of the year.

Indonesia suffered a major dengue outbreak last year. This year too, many cases have been reported in Jakarta, since December and the national authorities have installed control measures for these. However, given the extent of destruction due to the tsunami, WHO and the Ministry of Health are concerned about the increased risk of Dengue in Aceh and are carefully monitoring the situation. Concerns for malaria remain high, too. Although there is no information to suggest an increase in malaria cases in Banda Aceh, the area is endemic for the disease. "At present, we are dealing with a lot of unknowns because of the violent environmental changes that have taken place here," explained Dr Jack Chow, Assistant Director-General responsible for malaria at WHO Headquarters during a visit to Banda Aceh today. "For example, we do not know whether mosquitoes - which generally mostly live and bite outdoors - will start biting indoors more frequently. We have to monitor for these situations and support the communities so they are protected from disease, and have access to treatment when they need it".

"To reduce the risk of a dengue fever or malaria cases, WHO is strengthening its support to national authorities to impleme
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Source:WHO


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