MEET JAKARTA'S "MOSQUITO LADIES"
On World Mosquito Day, we introduce you to a group of women warriors who are battling dengue in Indonesia… and winning!
All over the world, humans are forced to face off against mosquitoes… and they don’t always win. Case in point, in January 2019, more than 100 people across Indonesia died of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease that can cause symptoms ranging from fever and rashes to severe bleeding and in some cases, death. The surge in cases was fueled by the rainy season — which is when dengue-bearing mosquitoes are most active — and local authorities declared health emergencies across four regions.
Because there is no specific treatment for dengue, it is important to stop the disease before it starts by getting rid of the mosquitoes that can carry the disease. That’s where a group of 11 women in Jakarta are making a difference.
You can tell who they are by their bright blue shirts emblazoned with a large mosquito. The mosquito monitoring group, all of whom were trained by World Vision Indonesia with support from USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, meet every Friday at 8:00 in the morning to discuss their game plan. Then they fan out, going door-to-door in their neighborhoods to raise awareness about dengue.
Jamilah, a 47-year-old mother of four, is part of the group.
“Our volunteers need to be smart because so many people didn’t know at all how to eradicate the dengue mosquitoes,” she said. “Our volunteers educate people about the dangers of dengue fever and how to deal with it.”
“Dealing with it” sometimes requires hands-on work. Mosquitoes like to breed in standing water, so the ladies’ house calls involve checking the kitchens and bathrooms for mosquito larvae. When they find larvae — which they say is quite often — the women provide helpful tips on how to remove standing water and keep homes mosquito free.
Since they started going door-to-door to the 600 homes, the women say there has not been a single case of dengue in their community.
Jamilah, who used to sell snacks at a food stall, finds her work now infinitely more rewarding. “If I didn’t do my job, I’m afraid there could be a dengue outbreak where I live,” she said. “No one has had dengue, and God willing, they won’t.”
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