Singapore battles an old foe with new media
This blog post originally appeared on the Dengue Vaccine Initiative blog.
When we last wrote about Singapore’s dengue outbreak just over a month ago, the total number of cases had already reached over 6,000 – more than the number of cases in all of 2012. Last week, Singapore broke the 10,000 mark. The country also set a new record for the weekly number of new cases, with 756 infections reported for the week of May 26 to June 1. To date there have been two deaths reported. All of this, while the high season for dengue in Singapore has theoretically just begun, and has months more to go.
So what is Singapore doing in the face of these rising numbers? As we mentioned last time, there are ongoing campaigns underway, including the “Do the Mozzie Wipeout” initiative that sends teams door to door to spread dengue awareness and control measures. Singapore is also exploring new and creative ways to tackle the growing number of cases, including using YouTube and social media to get the word out and raise awareness.
One example of this is “Mo-Buzz,” a social media based system developed by researchers at the Nanyang Technological University, which aims to better predict and warn of dengue outbreaks.
"Health authorities can warn the public in advance so Mo-Buzz will allow the public to be forewarned about any potential dangers that's coming their way,” said Associate Professor May O Lwin, the principal investigator of Mo-Buzz, in a recent Channel News Asia article. “And at the same time, it is a source of information that they can get real time and be part of the civic engagement where information about the different types of dengue breeding grounds can be fed back to the public."
The National Environment Agency (NEA) of Singapore is also getting creative with its campaigns. In addition to recruiting more Dengue Fighters with new ad campaigns, the NEA is taking their awareness campaigns to YouTube. Public awareness videos in the four main languages of Singapore, as well as three Chinese dialects, have all been posted, and a reality series is reportedly in the works. The Straits Times reported that the short videos will feature NEA officers, and are expected to be completed by August and released via the NEA’s Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the region marked the Third Annual ASEAN Dengue Day on June 15th. In a press release to mark the occasion, the NEA said, “As we acknowledge the regional scourge of dengue which recognises no borders, we commit to a concerted effort to reduce the burden of dengue in this region.”
Photo by CDC/ Robert S. Craig