Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Launch of the 'Do the Mozzie Wipeout' Campaign 2017, on 14 May 2017 at Our Tampines Hub

TOPICS: Dengue

1     Good morning everyone.


2     It is heartening to see so many of you joining us today for the ‘Do the Mozzie Wipeout’ Campaign Launch 2017. I launched this campaign at Tampines last year as well.  I remembered telling residents then that we had to take action, as dengue cases were projected to hit a record high of 30,000 cases. Fortunately, we ended 2016 with about 13,000 cases – which was half the initial estimation. That was made possible not just by a stroke of luck, but because of the strong community action nationwide. Intensive source reduction efforts by all stakeholders following the zika outbreak in August also helped curbed the transmission of dengue and zika. I applaud the effort of everyone who took action. Your efforts have paid off. In fact, I am glad to note that the number of weekly dengue cases have been low since the end of last year.


Current Dengue and Zika Situation

3     The current number of dengue cases may be relatively low, but we cannot afford to be complacent. We are now approaching the traditional peak dengue season, which runs typically from June to October. Already, NEA’s surveillance has shown that the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in our community remains high. This is the mosquito which spreads dengue and zika. You may have heard in the news that since the start of 2017, there have been 5 zika clusters. We need to stay vigilant and ensure that we do not breed mosquitoes in our homes. The NEA on its part, has also been keeping up with inspection and outreach efforts. It has conducted about 290,000 inspections island-wide in the first three months of 2017.


4     Even as NEA continues with these efforts, we also continuously explore new methods to further tackle the mosquito problem. I hope you have heard of Project Wolbachia – Singapore. It is a project by the NEA which looks at releasing male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes into our urban environment. When these male mosquitoes mate with the urban female mosquitoes, their eggs do not hatch and there will be no offspring. These male mosquitoes do not bite. The eventual goal of this technology is to complement source reduction efforts in suppressing the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in Singapore.


5     As part of Project Wolbachia – Singapore, the NEA last year launched a small-scale field study at three selected sites, including one in Tampines. The aim of the study is to find out more about the behaviour of male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes in our urban environment. Residents I spoke to have been very supportive of the study and I appreciate their cooperation. NEA is currently in its final stages of the field study and I am happy to share that the study has thus far provided valuable information on the behaviour of the mosquitoes. NEA is now conducting further analysis of the data collected from the study and is planning for an upcoming suppression trial. The aim of the suppression trial is to test the effectiveness of using male Wolbachia­-carrying mosquitoes to reduce the number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Singapore, and possibly prevent the spread of dengue and zika. I hope residents can lend us their support in the suppression trial as well.


6     That said, the Wolbachia technology is not a silver bullet. Indeed, it will take some years before we can deploy it in scale and effectively. It is therefore important that all of us must continue with our efforts to prevent mosquito breeding. This is the impetus for the ‘Do the Mozzie Wipeout’ campaign we are launching today. Through the campaign, we hope to galvanise everyone to stay vigilant and practise the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout. These are five simple steps all of us can take to ensure we don’t breed mosquitoes in our homes. Local grassroots advisers, leaders and Dengue Prevention Volunteers will also be going around estates to share with residents the common mosquito breeding habitats and dengue prevention tips.

7     While NEA and the volunteers keep up their efforts, they would not be able to reach out to every single resident. We need the support of everyone to take action, and practise the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout regularly as a way of life. Collectively, we can keep dengue and zika under control, and protect not just ourselves, but also our family and friends, from getting infected.

Thank you.

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