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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Senior citizens take the sting out of mosquito menace

Dahisar, Mumbai senior citizens take the sting out of mosquito menace.

20-member team, formed by BMC, detects over a hundred breeding spots in the western suburbs. Municipal corporation plans to introduce project in other wards too.

In a bid to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in homes and housing societies, as well as to spread awareness about preventing dengue and malaria, the BMC last month roped in senior citizens for the task in a pilot project at Dahisar.

The move followed complaints from BMC's staff, who said they face problems in entering flats to carry out inspections as people, particularly in high-rises, are reluctant to let them in. But, as people are familiar with senior citizen of their societies, they let them enter their homes.

The 20-member team at Dahisar detected over a hundred breeding spots in their vicinity since joining the campaign, and will now continue in other areas of the locality too. With the move proving a success, BMC plans to introduce it in other wards as well.

The project was launched early July, and the senior citizens were trained by health officials of BMC's R-North Ward, on how to detect as well as prevent breeding spots. The volunteers were also taught to identify various types of mosquitoes and the diseases they cause, including the symptoms of dengue and malaria. The training included a documentary on prevention of vector borne diseases. Once done, they were asked to visit homes, point out breeding spots and make residents aware of how to prevent diseases.

"Dengue and malaria has always been an issue in our locality. Most cases are reported from high-rises where mosquitoes breed in flower pots, AC ducts, etc," said local Shiv Sena corporator Sheetal Mhatre.

"Most homes are shut during the day when BMC's staff are on inspection rounds, and even if people are at home they don't let them in. But, as they recognise senior citizen of their societies, they welcome them," Mhatre said. "Residents think that breeding sites are far away from their own premises, hence this initiative has made a huge difference to BMC's efforts," Mhatre added.

Following the onset of monsoon, the Public Health Department created a mascot named 'Machchar Man' and put up hundreds of posters featuring him across the city. The posters, in Hindi and Marathi, drew attention to vector-borne diseases and how to control and prevent them. Seeking the help of senior citizens is part of BMC's larger anti-mosquito campaign.

"It was a good experience. As we've been living here for years, most people knew us. So when we knocked on doors, they let us in," said volunteer Bhupendra Chitalia, 72, a businessman from Anand Nagar in Dahisar.

"Most residents were unaware that they were breeding mosquitoes in their homes. We discovered many spots in AC ducts, decorative pots, vases and fish tanks. Most residents willingly got rid of such items, others promised to do so. We also urged children to take up the responsibility of destroying breeding spots, and made them understand the importance of keeping the premises clean," said Shyam Patel, 65, a resident of Riddhi Siddhi Apartments in Dahisar's CF Complex.

"The only way to prevent dengue and malaria is by clearing all breeding sites. This is possible only if residents back us," a BMC official said. "The senior citizens drive has been a success, we are likely introduce it in other wards too."  

Source:  http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/civic/Dahisar-senior-citizens-take-the-sting-out-of-mosquito-menace/articleshow/40312304.cms

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