The Health Ministry announced Friday that the number of dengue fever outbreaks in Indonesia over the last several years was the largest in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region.
Director for the Control of Diseases Originating from Animals, Rita Kusriastuti, said in Medan, North Sumatra, that the second-ranked country was Thailand, followed by India and Myanmar.
According to the latest statistics, Rita said, the rate of dengue fever outbreaks, which are spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, in Indonesia had fallen overall during the last two years.
“The rate in Indonesia will continue to fall if the public’s role [in combating the disease] is intensified,” Rita said in a ceremony to mark ASEAN Dengue Day.
The commemoration of ASEAN Dengue Day, which was launched in Jakarta last year, was focusing on Myanmar, and in Indonesia it was centered on Medan.
Indonesia, Rita said, expected that the commemoration, which falls on June 15 each year, would become an international activity.
“Combating dengue requires joint, and regular efforts. Therefore, all countries in the world must share the vision in implementing campaigns against dengue,” Rita said.
Rita explained that, in general, the rate of dengue fever outbreaks in Indonesia fell during the last two years. In 2009, the number of outbreaks in the country reached more than 150,000, but dropped by 50 percent to around 75,000 in 2010, and then down to 50,000 in 2011.
She added that endemic regions, or those with the highest number of cases of the disease in Indonesia were: Bali, followed by Central Sulawesi, Riau Islands, Jakarta, Jambi, Aceh, Riau, West Sumatra, North Sumatra and Bengkulu. “Dengue has increasingly become an urban disease, so the larger an urban population becomes, the higher the number of outbreaks,” she said.
Head of the Medan Health Office, Edwin Lubis, who was present at the ASEAN Dengue Day commemoration, admitted that Medan was included among the endemic areas because there had been reported outbreaks in nearly all the city’s districts.
“This year alone, at least 696 cases of dengue fever have been registered in Medan. Out of that total number, four people are reported as having died,” Edwin said.
He explained that the majority of those infected by the disease were children.
Edwin reminded parents, therefore, to improve their awareness and alertness for any possible dengue fever outbreaks. Children, in particular, are prone to being infected between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., and again from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., when the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are most active.