Deadly dengue Colombo’s bane | Sunday Observer

Deadly dengue Colombo’s bane

13 May, 2018

It’ s been a couple of months since Mohamed Zahran has been complaining to the local authorities about the dengue prone site in his locality. “No solutions are given to us up to date,” he laments.

Zahran spoke to the Sunday Observer about the issue faced by the residents of his locality seeking a speedy solution from the authorities.

Zahran said that the public toilets located in Gemunu Lane, Awwal Zaviya, Colombo 14 has not been in use for a long time and that these toilets were to be brought down sometime ago. He said, “These toilets were to be demolished sometime back but it was not done. The demolition work is at a standstill due to reasons not known. There is always some water stagnating during rainy days and with garbage getting accumulated in these toilets, it has become a site prone for deadly dengue.”


“We complained to the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) several times but no action has been taken up to date. There are possibilities for this place to be made use of for illegal activities by drug addicts. The CMC says that this place cannot be demolished at once as people will put up unauthorised buildings. They sprayed larvicides to the toilets and the residents of the area were informed to clean the toilets by a shramadana campaign. The CMC said that until a permanent solution is given, spraying is the only thing that they can do,” he added.

Zahran says that as a permanent solution, the toilets should be demolished and the debris together with the garbage be removed as soon as possible. “Two children residing in this area became victims of dengue a couple of months ago. I hope that the Dengue Control Unit will take immediate steps to demolish these toilets and make the place safe for the people residing in the vicinity,” he further added. “A few months ago officers from the Ministry of Health got the signatures from the residents to remove the garbage but it was not processed. This is a very pathetic situation that authorities should look into,” he complained.

Under the CMC

National Dengue Control Unit, Ministry of Health, Director, Dr. Hasitha Tissera when contacted to get an opinion on this issue said that this area is not under his purview and is under the CMC. “Although this is not under my purview, it is my responsibility to look into this issue. The CMC has the right to remove the debris and also the residents have the responsibility to the keep the area clean and not dump garbage. I am greatly concerned about this issue but the community has a great role to play by getting together to create a dengue-free environment,” he said.

Chief Medical Officer of the CMC, Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni when contacted on this issue promised to give immediate solutions for this problem and got the residents’ contact details. “I am not very sure about this issue in order to comment so I will look into it and take measures very soon,” he said.

M.A.C.M. Fazal Eng. Director, Works, at CMC and in charge of toilets in the city spoke to the Sunday Observer. He said, “We also received a letter of complaint from Mohammed Zahran about this site prone to dengue breeding. We are working on this issue in order to give the residents a solution. This issue should be carefully handled as it is a public space. People might put up illegal buildings if the place is demolished. We at CMC, will be discussing first as to what we can do with the land area after demolishing the toilets as these toilets belong to the CMC.

Based on an individual person’s comment, we are unable to take a decision as sometimes, a single person can have a personal motive. We have taken a decision to visit the site next week, have a look at the area and speak to the residents of the area. We will prepare a report by next week based on our investigation.”

Latest statistics

According to the latest statistics of dengue cases reported by the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health during the month of May 2018, 18,002 dengue victims were reported Unit from all over the Island. For the year 2017, 186,101 victims were reported. Approximately 30.7% of dengue cases were reported from the Western Province.

The highest numbers of dengue cases were reported during the 29th week of 2017.

“The outbreak situation in 2017 warranted extensive and regular removal of possible mosquito breeding sites from the environment, along with strengthened patient education on management of fever which resulted in a relatively low mortality. It is very important to seek medical attention in the event of fever and to do relevant laboratory investigations at least by day three of the illness,” stated the Government Epidemiology Unit.

According to the latest reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 43% of the dengue fever cases were reported from the Western Province and the most affected area with the highest number of reported cases is Colombo District (18,186) followed by Gampaha (12,121), Kurunegala (4889), Kalutara (4589), Batticaloa (3946), Ratnapura (3898), and Kandy (3853) respectively. Preliminary laboratory results have identified dengue virus serotype 2 (DENV-2) as the circulating strain in this outbreak. All four DENV have been co-circulating in Sri Lanka for more than 30 years and DENV-2 has been infrequently detected since 2009.

600,000 affected

The current dengue fever outbreak has occured in the context of heavy rains and flooding and is currently affecting 15 out of 25 districts in Sri Lanka where almost 600,000 people have been affected.

Heavy monsoon rains, public failure to clear rain-soaked garbage, stagnating water pools and other potential breeding grounds for mosquito larvae attribute to the higher number of cases reported in urban and suburban areas.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection caused by four dengue virus serotypes (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4). Infection with one serotype provides long-term immunity to the homologous serotype but not to the other serotypes; secondary infections put people at greater risk for severe dengue fever and dengue shock syndrome.

Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are the vectors widely adapted to urban and suburban environments. Dengue fever is endemic to Sri Lanka, and occurs every year, usually soon after rainfall as this period is optimal for mosquito breeding. However, DENV-2 has been identified only in low numbers since 2009 and is reportedly over 50% of current specimens which have been serotyped. The current dengue epidemic is likely to have repercussions on public health in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has the risk of ongoing dengue transmission and there are two peak seasons for dengue: from October to December and from May to July.

Reader’s response Parking fees

The Observer Citizen page has performed a public service by exposing the so called ‘parking fees’ and ‘late payment charges’, at the outrageous rate of over Rs 1,000 per DAY (!)by a private company Tenaga Car Parks Private Ltd.

This project has been totally mismanaged. The explanations trotted out by the management of Tenaga Car Parks’ Duminda Jayatilleke and others, is far from acceptable on several counts.

Firstly, the machines do not accept coins in payment of parking fees - though coins are legal tender and failure to accept them in payment of a debt, may be an offence under the Monetary Law Act.

Secondly, the parking fee could be Rs 10, 30,50 etc (depending on duration), but the failure to accept coins compels users to pay at least Rs 10 extra each time. This is nothing but deception.

Furthermore, the Company, Tenaga, is flouting the law by failing to issue a receipt for payments made to the machine.

Mr Jayatilleke of Tenaga has told your interviewer that “nowhere in the world do parking meters have the option of accepting both notes and coins”. For his information, nowhere in the world is a so called “ late payment fee” of Ten Australian dollars per day levied as is done by his machines. Incidentally, in Australia for example, a person’s per capita income is about 5 times that of Sri Lanka, but parking machines in Australia give you the option of parking for just 15 minutes, if you so wish! There is NO “late payment fee”!

I therefore hope, a Civic organization or the Consumer Protection Agency will challenge the legality of these machines, and the arbitrary charges, in a Court of Law. It would be a public service to do so.

I for one will no longer patronize any of the many small businesses located between Welllawatte and Galle Face Green on the Galle Road or its side roads - the hassle is just not worth it. Soon, shop owners and businesses will begin to feel the pinch.

People most affected by the actions of this private company in collusion with the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) are the ordinary citizens who now cannot even enjoy a casual visit to Galle Face Green without the threat of parking fees and absurd ‘late payment charges’.

There are good reasons why parking fees should be collected manually by Traffic Wardens - they provide a means of employment to the elderly and the unskilled. In your article the Director Engineering of the CMC is quoted as saying that “lack of proper accountability in the manual operation” led to its discontinuance. In other words, the consumer now must pay for the CMC’s incapability!

Mayor of Colombo Mrs Rosie Senanayake had better take action or face the wrath of Colombo’s long suffering residents at the next Municipal elections.


Fast facts on dengue fever

Dengue is transmitted by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are found throughout the world. Around 2.5 billion people, or 40 percent of the world’s population, live in areas where there is a risk of dengue transmission. Dengue is endemic in at least 100 countries in Asia, the Pacific, the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean. Symptoms usually begin 4 to 7 days after the mosquito bite and typically last 3 to 10 days.

Effective treatment is possible if a clinical diagnosis is made early.

  •  Signs and symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the disease. Mild dengue fever, Symptoms can appear up to 7 days after being bitten by the mosquito that carries the virus.

  •  They include:

Aching muscles and joints, Body rash that can disappear and then reappear, High fever, Intense headache, Pain behind the eyes, Vomiting and feeling nauseous, Symptoms usually disappear after a week, and mild dengue rarely involves serious or fatal complications.

  •  Dengue hemorrhagic fever

At first, symptoms of DHF may be mild, but they gradually worsen within a few days. As well as mild dengue symptoms, there may be signs of internal bleeding.

  •  A person with dengue hemorrhagic fever may experience:

Bleeding from the mouth, gums, or nose, Clammy skin, Damage to lymph and blood vessels, Internal bleeding, which can lead to black vomit and feces, or stools, A lower number of platelets in the blood

Sensitive stomach, Small blood spots under the skin, Weak pulse, Without prompt treatment, DHF can be fatal.

  • Dengue shock syndrome

DSS is a severe form of dengue. It can be fatal.

  •  Apart from symptoms of mild dengue fever, the person may experience:

Intense stomach pain, Disorientation, Sudden hypo tension, or a fast drop in blood pressure, Heavy bleeding, Regular vomiting, Blood vessels leaking fluid. Without treatment, this can result in death.

  •  Treatment

Dengue is a virus, so there is no specific treatment or cure. However, intervention can help, depending on how severe the disease is.

  •  For milder forms, treatment includes:

Preventing dehydration: A high fever and vomiting can dehydrate the body. The person should drink clean water, ideally bottled rather than tap water. Rehydration salts can also help replace fluids and minerals, Painkillers, such as Tylenol or paracetamol: These can help lower fever and ease pain, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, are not advised, as they can increase the risk of internal bleeding.

  •  More severe forms of dengue fever may need:

Intravenous (IV) fluid supplementation, or drip, if the person cannot take fluids by mouth, Blood transfusion, for patients with severe dehydration, Hospitalization will allow the individual to be properly monitored, in case symptoms get worse.

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Your article is appreciated and job well done but Municipality has no clue as they were sleeping for several years. Atleast it will open the door for new Mayor to eradicate this issue once for all it is very pathetic site to see. If it is wellawatte or bambalapity areas they will rush things it is just not fair and wake up please

I too has to say that in UK the first 20 minutes of parking is free to facilitate a motorist to pull to the kerb for any reason. Further its operative hours terminate by 6.00pm