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THE WAR IS NOT OVER, FRIENDS

[Lakbima News, Sunday, 22 January 2012 11:00 No Comment]

So who says the war is over? I know, I know, when they say the war is over they mean The War, it was the one that the man from VVT thought he could win. The war that many of those western armchair experts and assorted human rights buddies thought the man from VVT could not lose.

Ha, ha, ha! The man lost the war and the western experts ranging from political leaders to diplomats to military men lost their credibility.

10-3 Tigers dead and gone; not the mosquitoes

That is not the war I am talking of. In fact there is more than one war that is being fought and will have to be fought in the days to come. No, I am not referring to the propaganda war that the man in a frock (or was clothed in one sometime back) who was an insult to the religion he professed, is conducting from Germany.

The fact that he is doing so from Germany is absolutely appropriate since the Great Leader he worships even in death has the characteristics that dear Adolf was so well known for and practiced with such ardour that some euphemistically called it ethnic cleansing.

Remember how well the man from VVT himself did it getting rid of all the Muslims in the north with 24 hours notice and tried to drive all the Sinhala people away from the northeast killing man, woman and child and destroying villages?

The Tigers might be dead or gone but not so the mosquito it would seem, to judge by a recent letter from a reader in Talangama who referred to the National Mosquito Week that had been launched earlier this month to combat the growing menace of mosquitoes.

Naturally, I am rather disturbed by the news. True, it took us nearly 30 years to beat the Tigers  in their own lair. But then they are big beasts of the jungle and are not easy meat, if you’ll pardon the phrase.

But to take a whole week to deal with the mosquitoes! Now that is a bit much, if I might say so. By the way this is not to get rid of the mosquitoes, pronto. According to this letter from the dear lady in Talangama who seems to be quite fed up–and quite rightly so–with such sudden bursts of activity every couple of years, the week is not really devoted to ridding Colombo and its suburbs of the MM (mosquito menace for you illiterates).

Nothing gets done

without a push

Apparently it is to “cause public awareness of the mosquito menace and to combat against the proliferation of mosquitoes,” as the letter writer puts it. She adds that the week is jointly launched by the “Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defence with the hope of elimination of mosquito-borne diseases and ascertaining whether the various mosquito control schemes already in operation are effective and bring about the expected results.”

Quite rightly the Defence Ministry is in the forefront of this war too and without a push from the top brass of the ministry nothing seems to get done these days. So the Ministry of Defence has to remain permanently on a war footing. As for the rest of this exercise I could say this. It does not have to take one week to determine whether the so-called control schemes in operation are effective or not.

Now I cannot vouch for this story that reached me at the beginning of this “Crush the Mosquito” week. Apparently at a gathering of mosquitoes down Narahenpita before the “Week” was launched with great fanfare and the appearance of several politicians, there was much merriment among the mosquitoes who had a good laugh at these fruitless efforts to control them. After a few drinks–of blood that is–the mosquitoes headed home hoping they would run into a few more of the loudmouthed ‘crush the mosquito’ types on their way home.

Unless of course mosquitoes have begun to breed like rabbits; two–man teams just going around Colombo and its suburbs with a sprayer in the hand and canisters on the back are not going to stop mosquitoes from proliferating like politicians.

First look at policies

Personally I doubt whether a population that has been bitten black and blue by mosquito attacks need to be made aware of the MM. They surely bear more than a few marks to testify to their awareness.

The first thing is to look at the policies of the Health Ministry in combating MM. How good are these policies and how up to date are they? There is no point in going on endlessly with policies of yesteryear when the mosquitoes themselves have adapted to what they perceive as the nature of the danger to their being and become immune or have devised new ways of beating the rap.

Even if the policies are sound they are as useful as the methods used to carry them out. Good policies and bad implementation is just a waste of time, money and resources.

What needs to be done is to ensure that the policies, if sound, are properly supervised and implemented. It means devising a system of effective supervision over those who are deployed to combat the menace on the ground.

Not all the theories and good policies can control or eliminate this menace that overall will cost the State a pretty big packet of cash, unless and until results are seen on the ground. While that is being done, it is vitally necessary that the citizenry that refuses to abide by rules and regulations or thumb their noses at authority because of political backing are dealt with severely by the law and under the law.

This is where the Defence Ministry which has under its control the forces of law and order – the police, must act as the first line of defence in the war against the mosquitoes. Unfortunately today’s population would hardly have heard of the malaria epidemic in the 1930s, and danger and destruction it caused.

Sri Lanka right now cannot afford to fight on another front. It must deal effectively with those who do not act to control, if not eliminate this growing menace. The widespread breeding of mosquitoes is most often due to our own negligence and disinterestedness in the welfare of the people and the neighbourhood. Enough time has been spent on awareness programmes. If awareness is necessary it should be to make those who neglect to take action aware that action will be taken against them. Their selfishness or disinterest cannot and should be allowed to endanger the lives and livelihood of others.

It is not enough talking tough. The state must be tough against who ruin the environment and endanger the health of the nation.

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