The Dhaka city corporations and urban experts are, seemingly, using two different dictionaries while defining awareness to combat dengue. City authorities believe mass awareness can be shaped through conducting mobile courts. However, experts say the approach could frustrate people and, ultimately, backfire.
So far, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) visited nearly 65,000 residences and construction sites, realizing, in the process, a total of Tk 8,70,000 in fine upon finding Aedes mosquito larvae.
“Our drives are making people more aware of dengue breeding hotspots,” said Mizanur Rahman, Executive Magistrate of DSCC. He told The Business Standard that mosquito larvae were found in 10 to 15 percent of the houses and construction sites during the early days of the drive.
“The rate is dropping gradually, as we keep conducting mobile courts. Lately, people are taking measures for destroying Aedes breeding grounds, showing signs of awareness,” said Rahman.
The two city corporations have 10 mobile courts for conducting drives with the aim to destroy larvae. The magistrate said, they will cover 2,00,000 holdings in Dhaka South. In the meantime, DNCC completed its drives in 12,000 houses out of 2,50,000 holdings.
Sajeed Anwar, DNCC Executive Magistrate, told The Business Standard: “The dengue situation is gradually improving. We are getting satisfactory scenarios during our visits second time around.” Sajeed Anwar seemed to be quite optimistic about building mass awareness through mobile courts.
On the other hand, Adil Mohammad Khan, an urban planner, believes that if the city corporations take punitive action devoid of any awareness campaign, city dwellers may get frustrated. “These punitive drives without any awareness campaign will be harmful,” he noted.
“It is not appropriate to punish people before awareness campaign. The city corporations should first visit door to door to create awareness among people regarding dengue breeding grounds. Afterwards, they may go for punitive actions in case of non-compliance,” added the urban planner.
MA Matin, a member of Doctors for Health and Environment, told The Business Standard that the city corporations should consider their own construction sites first.
“There are many waste-clogged drains and dilapidated roads with puddles, which are also the hotspots for mosquito breeding,” he said. He expressed his view in favour of conducting cleanliness campaign in government establishments including offices, hospitals and police stations.