I HAD a Eureka moment while looking at the photos SunStar Cebu chief photographer Alex Badayos submitted the other day.
Alex covered the cleanup of the Mananga River conducted by Talisay City Government officials led by Mayor Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas with the help of some barangay officials to address the flood problem in the city.
There was nothing out of the ordinary about the activity. The usual suspects were found on the riverbank. Garbage, mostly plastic of different sizes and shapes, were scraped off from the bottom of shallow pools and left to gather at the side for pickup. There was no mention of how much trash was collected that day, although it looked like a lot.
But that’s not where I’m going with this column.
A news report I caught last Friday night, Aug. 23, 2019, showed people dumping sacks full of frogs in a river somewhere in the country. I wasn’t really paying much attention, so I don’t know where it was or when it happened. But I do know why. They were doing it as an anti-dengue measure.
You see, they figured that the Aedes aegypti, or the yellow fever mosquito that spreads dengue fever, can be stopped while they’re still in the larval stage by the hungry amphibians.
Of course, the river’s fish would have taken care of that, but if the river is not clean then most of its inhabitants would have died out already, leaving only resilient insects like mosquitoes to survive and flourish.
Another effective mosquito killer is the dragonfly, which can eat food equal to its weight in just 30 minutes (dragonfly-site.com). As nymphs, they like to prey on mosquito larva and other small critters. Unfortunately, these effective predators require clean water to thrive.
And judging by the state of Metro Cebu’s waterways, they can only survive upstream or near the source where the river hasn’t been touched by human habitation.
In effect, most if not all of Cebu’s rivers, creeks and canals have become de facto mosquito factories.
The Department of Health (DOH) and other government agencies have been conducting a campaign to focus on finding and destroying mosquito breeding sites.
“The first step to prevent dengue is within our homes, it is important to remove any space or container that can hold unnecessary stagnant water which may become breeding sites of mosquitoes,” said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier this year.
The health department makes no mention of waterways.
According to the DOH website, “the Enhanced 4-S implementation calls for everyone to become prime movers in controlling mosquito population and avoiding any possible dengue deaths within the community.”
The Enhanced 4-S campaign stands for “search and destroy mosquito-breeding sites, secure self-protection measures like wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts and daily use of mosquito repellent, seek early consultation and support fogging/spraying only in hotspot areas where increase in cases is registered for two consecutive weeks to prevent an impending outbreak.”
Last month, DOH declared a National Dengue Alert, as cases continued to rise in several regions in the country, including Central Visayas.
Some sectors blame the increase on the nationwide panic and widespread distrust of vaccinations caused by the Dengvaxia scandal, but they ignore the fact that our polluted waterways have become a haven for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
So it’s a good thing then that local government units in Metro Cebu have been cleaning and clearing rivers, albeit for another reason.