The global petition calling for a World Dengue Day has garnered support from signatories across the globe and across disciplines. In this joint Infectious Thoughts interview, we hear from Lassane Koala (medical entomologist at IRSS, Burkina Faso), Hadian Sasmita (National Nuclear Energy Agency, Indonesia), Tegwen Marlais (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK), Nguyen Thao (Institut Pasteur, Vietnam) and Zoumana Isaac Traore (World Health Organisation, Mauritania) on why it was important for them to rally behind this movement.
What is your professional or personal connection to or interest in dengue fever?
Lassane Koala (LK): I live in Burkina Faso, a country which experienced different outbreaks of Dengue causing, unfortunately, several deaths. I am a medical entomologist and I work on insect vectors of NTDs, such as blackflies or mosquitoes, responsible respectively of onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis. The control of NTDs such as Dengue has a great interest for me.
Hadian Sasmita (HS): I am a researcher in National Nuclear Energy Agency, Indonesia. We develop the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) as one of Dengue vector control program.
Tegwen Marlais (TM): Professionally, I’m working on a study of fever aetiology, of which Dengue is a possible cause so I’m interested in the diagnostic aspect. More personally, I have family living in endemic regions, and closer to home (in the UK), the spread of the mosquito vectors with climate change should mobilise everyone to take notice.
Nguyen Thao (NT): I'm working as part of a research team on Dengue in Vietnam.
Zoumana Isaac Traore (ZT): I am working with the World Heath Organization Office in Mauritania. We are actually responding to a dengue outbreak which is almost controlled.
What are some of the main reasons for which you signed the petition?
LK: I’m aware that several types of research are doing against Dengue, but I believe that the burden of the disease could be reduced by a good strategy of communication and advocacy. In this way, I believe that a World Dengue Day will allow the populations of endemic regions and decision makers to be aware of the public health importance of Dengue.
HS: Dengue is still and always will be a severe health problem in Indonesia. It causes thousands of death every year as well as millions of dollars lost for medical treatment. I myself was once hospitalized for dengue, and it was a terrible experience. I don’t want this misfortune to happen to other people. [Click here to read a personal testimonial of Hadian's experience with dengue infection].
TM: I signed the petition after hearing about the impact of the disease, particularly the economic impact on families and the distress it must cause to have a disease that you feel powerless against.
NT: Vietnam is one of the members of ASEAN and we usually celebrate the ASEAN Dengue Day, organising activities to encourage community involvement for the prevention of Dengue.
ZT: My son suffered from dengue and, at the time, I wasn't aware that dengue could occur in my country. I have learned more about this disease and that's how I discovered that many West African countries are recording dengue outbreaks.
What are some of the ways in which you feel a World Dengue Day petition will benefit those at risk of dengue but also the wider global community?
LK: To me, a petition, signed by persons who suffer from Dengue, researchers, decision makers etc, will highlight the importance of the disease and contribute to addressing the Dengue issue. This petition represents a concrete opportunity "to do something" to relieve the persons suffering from Dengue worldwide.
HS: For me, combating Dengue is not an easy task, it needs collaboration from all stakeholders, from government to society with a help of strong base RnD. WDD may help us to draw attention from people all around the world. With WDD, hopefully philanthropists will donate some money for RnD, society will rise their awareness of mosquito environmental management and government will take a proper-sustainable-integrated policy to get a rid of Dengue.
TM: The petition acknowledges to those affected by Dengue that they are supported by an international community. I think a WDD would raise the profile of all aspects of Dengue- from the societal and psychological impacts of a potentially fatal disease, to improving diagnostics, vaccines and treatment. More broadly, it could also give recognition to other debilitating mosquito-borne viral infections, and connecting vector control with WASH would have a much wider impact and benefit beyond Dengue. So the impact would be very positive.
NT: In my opinion, the message of preventing Dengue is brought around the World, not only in developing countries, but also in the developed one. I really like the topic " Dengue voice", because it maybe come from the patients, doctors, citizens and etc,.... It is useful and effective if you can connect a lot kind of people.
ZT: World dengue day is one of the best ways to sensitize people about this disease and bring decision makers to take action.