Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Julia Bishop said the Australian government will assist Sri Lanka in the eradication of Dengue by providing Rs.116 million for a joint research programme with Monash University.
The Monash University research team will trial the introduction of a naturally occurring Wolbachia bacteria to the Sri Lankan mosquito populations which will hopefully prevent the dengue virus from being transmitted to humans. The bacteria was said to have the ability to block other mosquito borne diseases such as Zika and Chikungunya.
Addressing the media in Colombo last evening Bishop said the use of the bacteria had been successful in several other countries that it has been piloted in including Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, India and some pacific nations. “We know the virus has taken a heavy toll in Sri Lanka with close to a 100,000 infected and 250 deaths and we are committed to helping Sri Lanka eradicate dengue once and for all,” Bishop said.
Speaking of short term measures to eradicate the disease, Bishop said the Australian government would also provide a grant of Rs.58 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) to immediately implement intensive dengue prevention and control measures.
Working with Sri Lankan health authorities and other partners, the objective will be to the reduce transmission of dengue and thereby the incidence by more than 50 per cent over a period of 4-6 weeks in high risk districts of the country. Thanking Bishop, on the initiatives by the Australian government, Health Minister Rajitha Senarathna said the Health Ministry had already developed a sustainable dengue prevention campaign which would ensure the fever would not be a health issue by 2020.
The Minister concluded that this assistance was welcome and would help in eradicating dengue in the country. “We have exchanged a letter of intent in participating in the programme and will sign the agreement once discussions are concluded,” he said. (Nabeela Hussain)