In the wake of the countrywide celebrations of the anniversary of independence and the massive floods in the North, North Central and the East, another matter of grave concern has gone unnoticed. The impending local government elections would also likely to take public attention away from it.

We are referring to the resurgence of the dengue outbreak and the ever increasing death toll due to it. The more this danger is kept unknown from the public the more it would spread for it is a matter to be dealt with primarily by the public. Unlike other epidemics dengue needs public awareness and public participation to prevent it spreading. It is not a matter for health personnel alone.

The need of public awareness is greater since politicians and even officials trumpeted the decline of the epidemic few months ago when warm weather prevailed, as if it was a triumph of their labour.

The authorities have been grappling with dengue for several years and yet they have not been able to make a serious dent in the incidence of the disease. It would be interesting to find out whether the preventive measures were carried out in earnest or were abandoned with the end of the rainy season. As far as community participation was concerned there was none in the past few months. Even legal action against errant householders and public environment cleaning campaigns had dwindled.

Dengue eradication could be achieved only through long and arduous concerted campaigns with the participation of the public at all levels. The ultimate success of the campaign would be decided by the level of environmental cleanliness and the success in eradicating mosquito larvae breeding places.

This calls for an attitudinal change and a change in the habits and practices of the populace. Without their cooperation and active participation it would be almost impossible to achieve success in the battle against dengue. It is also necessary to understand that this task cannot be accomplished in a matter of days, weeks or even months. What is required is a consistent and prolonged relentless effort.

According to the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry there had been 831 cases of dengue during the month of January, 2011. This is the reported figure. The actual figures may be more for there are many patients that take medicines outside the State medical services. Of the reported cases there had been 11 deaths with the weekly death rate now reaching three during the past three weeks.

Dengue has become the most important public health challenge. It should be dealt with the seriousness it deserves. Political expediencies such as the oncoming local government elections should not be allowed to slacken the pace of awareness and preventive campaigns that are required essentially to deal with it.

As before the political leadership at all levels should take up the challenge using all resources at their command to stop this silent killer going on rampage.

Time to smile

There is an old adage which says that a smile is worth a million though it does not cost a cent. However, in the hurly-burly of modern life most people forget this advice. Some of course wear a perennial frown on their faces. Others would say it is difficult to smile when you are in adverse circumstances, having to make a not so confident struggle to make both ends meet or to keep home fires burning.

Some would say that a smile must be genuine for a forced or reluctant smile is transparent. This is because not only the smile but also the guilt is written in the face.

Be that as it may we are in for a season of smiles, a season of cheer for the local polls are forthcoming.

Elections are always a season of cheer. Very soon politicians would smile at you from each nook and corner, from every wall, from every lamp post and tree. They will smile even at funeral parlours and burial grounds.

Impermanence is a law of nature. Everything is transitory, impermanent, said the sages. The smiles of politicians are also impermanent.

They will fade away and perhaps be replaced by frowns. Once the hustings are over, win or lose the smile will fade away and the frown would take its due place in the faces of politicians. Perhaps it is due to Newton's Third Law of Motion, which says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.