Speech by Dr. Kasai on the occasion of ASEAN dengue day 2012
Dr. Takeshi Kasai
World Health Organization Representative to Viet Nam
Mr Nguyen Thanh Son, Member of Central Committee of Communist Party, Secretary, -Communist Party’s Committee of Kien Giang Province
Dr Nguyen Thanh Long, Vice-Minister of Health
Dr Tran Thanh Duong, Deputy Director, General Department of Preventive Medicine, Director of the National Dengue Control Programme
Ladies and gentlemen
I am very pleased to attend the second ASEAN Dengue Day on behalf of WHO in Viet Nam.
The location of this launching ceremony in Kien Giang, in one of the most dengue affected provinces of Mekong delta regions is very appropriate. It is a place where in the past 30 years, dengue cases occur almost on a weekly basis.
Today, you are connected to all other ASEAN member states. They are organizing similar ceremonies and campaigns as the one here in Kien Giang today.
Before 1970, dengue affected only a few countries but since then it has spread dramatically around the word, and today, more than 40% of the worlds’ population is now at risk of dengue and 75% of cases are reported from the Asia Pacific region.
Dengue is one of the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne infectious diseases. This is no exception in ASEAN member states. The, dengue virus is evolving with increased frequency of outbreaks and expansion to new geographical areas. Just as with other infectious diseases, Dengue does not recognize national borders.
That is why the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN and the World Health Organization, WHO joined forces in identifying priority actions and organizing this awareness raising event across the ASEAN nations.
Dengue is not an easy disease to prevent and control. Unfortunately, there is neither an effective vaccine for prevention nor a drug to kill the dengue virus. It requires a long term effort not only by governments but also by individuals and communities.
For the cure, fortunately, even though we do not have a specific drug to kill the dengue virus, we can save lives through a combination of existing treatments if patient seeks treatment before it is too late. Viet Nam has been very successful in promoting dengue diagnosis and treatment and has reduced dengue mortality significantly to 61 deaths in 2011 across the country. This is a result of the tremendous effort of Viet Nam’s Government and health care workers. I would like to commend them for that.
Prevention of dengue infection on the other hand, has not been as successful and this is reflected in the increased number of dengue cases and a rapid geographical spread of the disease in all countries in the region.
Why it is difficult to control and prevent? There are many reasons but one important factor is the breeding site of mosquitoes.
In order to control and prevent dengue, it is important to control mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus and to do so, it is important to eliminate the environment where mosquitos lay their eggs and where larvae thrive until they reach adulthood.
Unlike mosquitoes that transmit Malaria, mosquitoes that transmit Dengue lay their eggs in small containers filled with water that are often found in individual households. This means that without individual household efforts to eliminate these breeding sites it is not possible to effectively control the spread of dengue.
Mosquitoes that breed in your home, may infect your neighbors with dengue. In other words, your individual effort to control the mosquito population is necessary to prevent and control the spread of dengue in your community. At the same time, community action can provide support to individuals to keep their households mosquito free.
Ladies and gentlemen, Dengue remains a public health challenge for the Western Pacific Region and its control is everyone’s responsibility. While individual households and communities make their effort, government must continue its investment in community’s prevention and control efforts and to improve dengue diagnostic and surveillance system.
WHO also strongly encourages Viet Nam’s Ministry of Health to continue to share important country information on dengue through ASEAN and WHO’s regional mechanism in order to contribute to early detection and response across the western pacific region.
Addressing common threats in a united and coordinated way will maximize our region’s resources, secure our region’s health. WHO will continue to work closely work with the Ministry of Health in support of dengue control and prevention activities in Viet Nam.
Thank you very much.