Rotarian Action Group (RAG) secretary John Cheah said that a district-level committee to combat dengue convened yesterday, and they proposed a collaboration with schools to combat the high number of dengue cases in the state capital. (pix by MOHD AZREN JAMALUDIN)

JOHOR BARU: Concerned about the rising number of dengue cases in Johor Baru, the Rotary International District 3310 is spearheading an initiative to raise funds to help schools improve facilities such as damaged septic tanks, which are known to breed Aedes mosquitoes.

Rotarian Action Group (RAG) secretary John Cheah said that a district-level committee to combat dengue convened yesterday, and they proposed a collaboration with schools to combat the high number of dengue cases in the state capital.

He said based on a July 16 visit to a vernacular school in Jalan Yahya Awal here, it was found that there was an old and damaged septic tank that can become a potential breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes.

"There are many schools in Johor Baru district with old septic tanks with gaping holes and are damaged.

"This was discovered by the District Dengue Disease Action Committee whose members visited schools in Taman Sri Tebrau and Jalan Yahya Awal recently," said Cheah, who is part of the committee and an engineer by profession.

"Mosquitoes can go into the septic tanks which were found to have holes. We need to safeguard the safety of the children," Cheah said.

Cheah, who is a MCA division public complaints committee chairman and engineer by profession, said that fixing wire netting at septic tanks did not cost much, but admitted that repairing entire septic tanks were more costly.

He said people should be more aware of the dangers of dengue, and take note of cleanliness of their surroundings.

"When it come to dengue, people don't seem to be too bothered about it. Even if a patient doesn't die from the disease, the medical treatment costs for dengue fever at a private hospital can come up to thousands of ringgit," Cheah said.

Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat told the New Straits Times that there had been 14 deaths out of the 212 dengue fever cases recorded in the week ending July 22.

The deceased were aged between eight and 67 and the areas involved were Bandar Uda Utama, Bandar Baru Uda, Taman Seri Austin, Taman Mutiara Rini, Taman Scientex, Taman Tampoi Indah 2, all in Johor Baru.

Johor education director Shaharudin Sharif said he lauded the initiative but added that the State Education Department has not received any complaints from schools regarding damaged septic tanks.

"There is an allocation for repairs if school authorities were to submit a report," Shaharudin said.

Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam had said last Saturday that there was a need for everyone to work together to eradicate the dengue virus, while revealing there were e 101,000 dengue cases last year, with 230 deaths.

He had said that this year, the numbers already reached 50 per cent of the amount, with 51,000 dengue cases and 122 deaths.

Cheah said the Johor Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) has also joined several search and destroy activities to weed out Aedes breeding grounds at construction sites and high rise buildings.

He said the IEM Seremban and IEM Melaka have also both expressed their wish to emulate Johor IEM by collaborating with the relevant authorities to search and destroy the breeding grounds of mosquitoes, which so far, have proven to be successful in reducing the number of dengue cases.

keywords: dengue cases, Johor Baru, Rotary International District 3310, raise funds, schools, septic tanks, Aedes mosquitoes, John Cheah

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