Dengue is a scourge that affects many countries in the tropics, Sri Lanka and Australia included.
The Australian High Commission supported Sri Lanka’s National Dengue Control Unit (NDCU) in facilitating a workshop in Colombo on 16 May 2016 to tackle this serious problem. The workshop allowed the two countries to share their experiences and knowledge on dengue control.
Professor Scott Ritchie from James Cook University of Australia, visiting Sri Lanka under an Australian Government-sponsored program, joined the NDCU’s National Coordinator Dr Hasitha Tissera to run the workshop, together with Dr Sarath Amunugama, Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) and Dr A.M. Thowfeek, Director, Dengue Control Unit.
Around 40 medical doctors and entomologists from Sri Lanka’s various districts participated in the workshop, which also included a field visit to the Colombo East Municipal Council office of the Public Health Department to speak with public health inspectors carrying out dengue surveillance and control activities.
Dr Hasitha Tissera pointed out that more than 16,500 suspected dengue cases had been reported during the last five months of 2015, with more than half of these from the Western Province. Poor drainage systems and ineffective solid waste management were the key reasons for creating mosquito breeding places, he said.
Professor Ritchie emphasised “the key measures for preventing the spread of dengue are good sanitation, a reliable water supply and the adoption of targeted indoor residual spraying rather than outdoor fogging”
Professor Ritchie discussed his involvement in the successful pilot of an innovative program in North Queensland where the Wolbachia bacterium has been introduced into the mosquito population with the remarkable effect of preventing dengue vector mosquitoes from transmitting dengue viruses.
Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson said “Professor Ritchie’s visit is another example of the excellent technical cooperation between Australian and Sri Lankan experts. Together we can fight dengue and ensure a better quality of life for our people.”
The workshop drew on research conducted in several other countries including Colombia, India, and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region. High Commissioner Hutchesson said “it is imperative that countries with experience in this field share their knowledge and build networks between experts.”
James Cook University is widely recognised as a world leader in research on tropical environments, including tropical health and medicines.
Australian High Commission