The mosquito outbreak in Dhaka has spiraled out of control, and the northern part of the city is significantly affected compared to the southern part of the capital.
Swarms of mosquitoes are converging on people in their homes, schools, hospitals and offices.
Recently on February 23, these deadly disease carriers even delayed a Malaysian Airlines flight for two hours at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.
Denizens of the north city are being forced to use mosquito nets during the daytime. However, effective measures for controlling the mosquito outbreak is yet to be implemented by the two city corporations of Dhaka.
Compared to the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) covers a larger part of the city. But the DNCC received smaller funds for mosquito control this fiscal year.
Many residents living in Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara have implemented their own methods of mosquito control, but their efforts could not completely solve the issue.
Dwellers of Dhaka city are quite concerned about the possibility of another Dengue outbreak.
Will the hotline help?
Under these dire circumstances, DNCC launched a hotline on February 28 for its residents to forward information about mosquito infestation in their area.
Residents can reach the DNCC by dialing- 01932665544, and the city corporation will dispatch pest control teams across the city for mosquito control within 24 hours.
Speaking to the correspondent, a number of Dhaka residents pointed out that the mosquito infestation is a problem encompassing all of the capital city, and not just one neighborhood or a single home.
“The city corporation should start a city-wide special program for controlling the mosquito infestation. Decision to launch a hotline is not logical. Will the DNCC spray aerosol in an area only when they are called up?” they said.
Also Read- Mighty mosquitoes delay Malaysian Airlines flight at Dhaka airport
According to DNCC sources, the city corporation has launched a crash program for mosquito control as of February 12. This program was supposed end on February 28, but DNCC extended it till March 15.
Even 17 days after the crash program was launched, the city dwellers are yet to notice any improvement in the situation.
Speaking on the issue, DNCC Chief Health Officer Brigadier General Md Zakir Hasan said: “We launched the hotline so that the residents can inform us about the mosquito outbreak. We cannot say that we are successful, as the service recently started.”
When questioned about the necessity or possible benefits of the hotline, Zakir stated: “This service was launched for the benefit of the people, and we hope that it would benefit them. Residents can file their complaint to the DNCC directly.
“If someone complains that the DNCC had not yet sprayed aerosol in a particular area, we will dispatch pest control teams.”
What are the residents saying?
DNCC resident Monjurul Islam, who lives in a flat in Banani, said: "I have been living in Banani for the past nine years. I have not yet seen a single pest control team from the city corporation in this area.
“Spraying aerosol to get rid of the mosquitoes is ineffective in both home and office. l cannot use mosquito nets at office, can I?”
Anjuman Ara Begum from Aftab Nagar echoed the same opinion.
“I have seen no one spraying mosquito repellants here. Why should there be a need for us to call a hotline for this service? We pay taxes standing in a queue, so, the city corporation should provide mosquito control services to our doorstep,” she said.
“Nothing but a farce”
Meanwhile, a DNCC councillor, preferring to be anonymous, said: “The issue is not like the Chikungunya disease treatment. Hotline can be used to ask for doctors and medicines, but it cannot be used to control a citywide mosquito infestation.
“The infestation has spread across Dhaka. The city corporation must make a coordinated effort to control the mosquito infestation. Using a hotline to call for pest control teams in homes is nothing but a farce.”
Several DNCC supervisors told the correspondent that even if a pest control team is dispatched at someone’s home for mosquito control, the infestation will persist in the long run.
“A better way to deal with the problem is to carry out simultaneous fogging [spraying of repellants] in a large area of the city,” they added.
Speaking on the issue, DNCC Chief Health Officer Md Zakir Hasan said: “We have 283 employees for mosquito control, and we will outsource 44 more people who will join us from March 1.”
According to sources, DSCC had a budget of Tk11.5 crore for mosquito control in the last fiscal year. The budget has been increased this year to Tk25.5 crore. However, the DNCC’s budget is only Tk20 crore for the same purpose.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com