Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 07/26/2014 21:00 | By Channel NewsAsia

1,700 volunteers to receive 'Dengue Fighter' training from NEA

1,700 volunteers to receive 'Dengue Fighter' training from NEA

1,700 volunteers to receive 'Dengue Fighter' training from NEA

SINGAPORE: Community efforts to fight dengue are being ramped up.

Over the next two months, 1,700 grassroots volunteers from the People’s Association will be trained by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to be "Dengue Fighters" - part of a nationwide Anti-Dengue Education and Prevention Drive by the People's Association and its grassroots organisations.

This will expand the NEA's current network of 3,200 dengue prevention volunteers and help boost outreach efforts. Of the 3,200 volunteers, about 700 are grassroots volunteers.

Since the beginning of the year, some 11,600 dengue cases have already been reported. The number of active clusters also continues to grow and so more resources are needed to support NEA officers, said Second Minister for Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu.

"As the numbers of active clusters go, we have to focus on the real big clusters,” she said. “So we need additional help, and also ongoing help at the community, so that the stakeholders themselves are always on the lookout. Because this is going to require a lot of sustained efforts, and we need the community and residents themselves to take charge."

This is where the dengue prevention volunteers come in. Among other things, they will keep residents informed of the current dengue situation, encourage them to practise dengue prevention and check for potential breeding spots in common areas in the neighbourhood.

"They are actually a nicer face to the residents because they are familiar faces. They are neighbours, they are people that are seen in the area, so I think they will bring about the message in a more friendly way and hopefully that will be a very effective supplement to the NEA's resources," said Ms Fu.

Ms Fu also conducted a training session for about 300 grassroots volunteers from the People’s Association on Saturday (July 26).

To encourage residents to do more to fight dengue, grassroots residents will be distributing some 100,000 copies of this checklist to households they visit over the next few months. The checklist contains simple reminders, such as to remove stagnant water as well as to spray insecticide in dark corners of a home.

"It's necessary for us to take care of our community,” said Joseph Ong, undergraduate and dengue fighter. “If we have a high dengue threat rate in our place, we will not feel secure. So it's good to increase awareness of the dengue threat in our area so that the people around us will be able to help detect and deter potential dengue threats."

NEA says that from its inspections so far, most mosquito breeding habitats are found in homes. Ms Fu also pointed out that NEA always reviews its processes, including how it carries out its checks, such as having a more targeted approach when it comes to construction sites.

"We have clearer guidelines, we will work closer with the industry association, and we're going to do more education on the ground," she said. Ms Fu added that expanding the network of volunteers is also one way to increase the effectiveness of NEA's mosquito control and reduction efforts.  - CNA/ec

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