31 May 2018

NZ gives funding to boost Fiji's fight against dengue

4:17 pm on 31 May 2018

New Zealand is to give $2.7 million ($US1.9 million) to help fight the dengue fever epidemic in Fiji.

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Photo: 123RF

An outbreak was declared in February in Nadi and the nearby town of Ba, with hundreds of cases reported since the beginning of the year.

New Zealand's foreign minister Winston Peters said the money would go to the World Mosquito Programme and its efforts to limit the ability of mosquitoes to spread the disease.

The New Zealand contribution will expand the geographic scope of the programme efforts in Fiji from the Suva region to include more than 120,000 people in other areas, including Nadi and Lautoka.

The Fiji times reported the outbreak there were 279 registered cases of dengue between 29 November, 2017 and the 17 December, 2017.

In the past couple of months, the disease has spread across the pacific regions including Rapa Nui, which is a Chilean territory also known as Easter Island, New Caledonia, the French Pacific island of Futuna, and Tonga.

Zika Foundation chief executive Michael Callaghan said dengue was by far the most terrifying one compared to other mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, chikungunya and zika.

Dr Callaghan has worldwide expertise with mosquito bourne diseases having visited many infectious zones around the world.

He said as well as a huge public health concern, economies take a hit too.

"Its a terrible disease that really hits communities at several levels more than just any terrible painful disease. I have had it. It's no fun. It keeps you out of work for a long time and it is also a big GDP killer affecting communities quite significantly," Dr Callaghan said.

He said climate change has impacted on the mosquitos lifecycle, with larvae and eggs that would die in colder temperatures now surviving.

"So Aedes Aegypti mosquito is the posterchild as a primary beneficiary of climate change as it adapts and goes where people go, especially as cities are getting warmer. "

The disease-carrying mosquito was al so drawn to certain island outfits, as well as odours.

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