THE rainy season is about to be over. This year, the meteorological department’s monsoons forecast proved mere rhetoric. It had promised more rain than last year but so far the showers have been below normal levels.
Nevertheless, the accumulation of rainwater at many places has already created ample breeding grounds for mosquitoes. This problem causes outbreaks of malaria after the rains in and during the past three years or so, dengue fever has also been causing havoc in the lives of the people of Punjab.
The Punjab chief minister took keen interest in eradicating dengue. However, the epidemic ended only after weather conditions, which had been conducive to the breeding of fever-inducing mosquitoes, changed. This made the chief minister’s critics ridicule him. In fact, the anti-mosquito drive was perhaps approached from the wrong direction.
The chief minister’s sagacious advisers proposed that anti-dengue awareness literature be disseminated at every house through school and college teachers. Educational institutions were ordered to send every day to the head office pictures showing the teachers distributing the material. Such publicity stunts served only as paths to ridicule because in this electronic age, awareness can be created through just one television channel.
Dengue awareness reports in the newspapers seemed more like a political campaign than a drive against the epidemic. It may have earned extra fame for the chief minister but it definitely did not affect the dengue mosquito.
Now, when conditions are ripe for the spread of dengue again, the government must check whether or not all arrangements are in place to counter it, lest the fever once again assumes epidemic proportions.—(Aug 9)
Selected and translated by Intikhab Hanif.