Drought and Dengue – Sri Lanka’s battle on two fronts

Drought and Dengue – Sri Lanka’s battle on two fronts

By Lahiru Fernando

19 Jul, 2017 | 6:51 am

Sri Lanka is currently battling two different fights on two fronts. On one side the Dengue epidemic is running rampant among people: on the other hand, there is another group of people struggling with a severe drought.

The drought situation has reached a point where over 268,000 people are affected across 12 districts. They are:

  • Trincomalee
  • Ampara
  • Batticaloa
  • Jaffna
  • Mullaitivu
  • Vavuniya
  • Kilinochchi
  • Mannar
  • Kurunegala
  • Puttalam
  • Anuradhapura
  • Polonnaruwa

The water levels of most tanks in the above areas are at a very low level, said Director of the Irrigation Department, Janaki Meegaswatte.  She added that the water level has dropped to around 10% of around 73 of the main tanks.

“We wont be able to release water for the Maha season like we usually do. Farmer will have to wait for the rains to begin their cultivation”, said the Director.

She also pointed out that most of the rain in 2016 was experienced in the wet zone, though there are complaints on water management.

“There is no way to store the waters of the Kelani, Nilwala and Kalu rivers so we have to just wait till it flows into the sea…” said  Janaki Meegaswatte.

The Dengue Epidemic

The number of those affected due to this rapid spread has exceeded 93,323, while 267 people have lost their lives to the deadly virus.

On Monday, July 17, a 48 year old woman fell victim to the virus and died while receiving treatment at the Negombo Hospital.She was a resident of Mahadhunupitiya, Negombo.

Another recent fatality was a 28 year old, also from Negombo. According to the Judicial Medical Officer of the hospital the 28 year-old was being treated in, the patient recovered following the treatment but passed away due to liver complications.

A third patient aged 56, was recieving treatments for two weeks at the Negombo hospital and was later transferred to the National Hospital. The patient died later from a heart disease, said the hospital JMO.

Methods to curb the disease

The Jayawardenapura University is currently researching a number of methods to curb the disease. Although many universities have begun researching, this is the response News 1st received when contacted the Government Medical Research Institute’s Director, Dr. Lakshmi Karunathileke:

Question: “Why isn’t the MRI conducting any research into this?”

Answer: “No.. we only receive special tasks……”

Q: “If there is a change in the Dengue virus, why isn’t the MRI conducting any research into it? ..”

A: “If requested, we do undertake research”.