Tackling Dengue

MP Sylvia Lim

Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied): Sir, after rising by six times year on year in 2022 to over 30,000 cases, dengue fever is expected to remain a serious health risk this year. NEA said in December that a rise in the high number of dengue cases at the end of the year could result in Singapore entering this year with an atypically large number of dengue cases.

Dengue fever is not new to us. As such, some of us may have a complacent mindset and overlook the fact that the dengue virus is debilitating and can be fatal.

Clearly, a multi-pronged approach is urgently needed to tackle the environmental factors of mosquito breeding, alongside medical solutions or precautions to better protect people living in Singapore from this scourge.

On eradicating mosquito breeding, we owe our gratitude to the teams deployed by the National Environment Agency for their intense ground inspections.

There may be some inspection fatigue felt by residents living in dengue clusters as they are subject to repeated inspections. However, these checks are needed for public health and the well-being of the community. Hence, cooperation from residents is much needed.

Apart from source eradication, what is the state of the other strategies?

For instance, Project Wolbachia has been around since 2016 and expanded in phases. The earliest smaller phases have shown positive results in drastically suppressing the Aedes aegypti mosquito population and reducing the number of dengue cases, for example, in Tampines and Yishun.

Given that it takes at least a year from the Wolbachia-Aedes mosquito release to suppress the mosquito population, how long will it take for Project Wolbachia to cover all residential areas?

As for vaccinations, I note from a Parliamentary Answer in July 2022 to my colleague Ms He Ting Ru that there are about six vaccine candidates in development. The most advanced of these is a dengue vaccine by Takeda, Takoo 3 – a tetravalent vaccine targeting all four dengue serotypes. What is the status of its evaluation by the Health Sciences Authority?

Finally, early diagnosis and medical attention would help prevent serious health conditions and death. For our residents, seeking treatment first at the nearest general practitioner (GP) clinic is the quickest option. How high is the threshold for symptoms before a dengue blood test is conducted?

I also understand that these tests are not cheap and I would ask the Government to consider a subsidy for such tests if a doctor deems it fit to order them.

Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment
1 March 2023


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