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Will Zika rival dengue soon?

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By: Philip Ang

Minister Gan Kim Yong has tried to sound smart by telling Singaporeans “The authorities here have been prepared for the past two years for Zika to arrive and spread”. So what is the point of all the preparations when Zika is out of control now?

It’s like saying one has been preparing for war for 2 years but the enemy came and strolled past our defences. Isn’t it also the same with our SPF which had all the firepower and technology but ran away from a few hundred rioters? Are we ever prepared for anything at all?

Ministers seem to be attempting to outdo one another to see who can talk cock the most with the gold medal going to PM Lee with his invaluable advice – “Best way to curb Zika is to stop mosquito breeding”. So much for leadership.

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There is actually no reason for Zika to run amok if the authorities had taken the dengue threat seriously since a decade ago. It was only after Zika was confirmed on 27 August that NEA began to wayang a lot more and guess what they found? More than 200 mosquito breeding sites! The total number could easily be more than 1000 but of course we will never know.

NEA is headed by a former paper general Ronnie Tay (Navy) who had been parachuted into the top post at IDA before arriving at NEA by, of course, parachute. Scholar Ronnie is assisted by Dy CEO Khoo, also a scholar.  Khoo was involved in health policies such as dengue control since 2004, 12 years ago. Even with dengue cases hitting a record high in 2013 and no solution in sight, our scholars are still not held accountable. No wonder Zika is also out of control.

The issue of accountability has to be addressed because 8 pregnant women have already been infected and the number of cases looks set to increase.

Thailand has recently reported the number of Zika cases has climbed to about 200 this year. However, Thailand is more than 700 times bigger than Singapore, so why only 200 cases?

Closer to home, Malaysia had none until it imported the first case from us. But with a land mass 45 times bigger than ours, why are there almost no cases of Zika?

It’s really a disgrace for our civil servants to be receiving top tax dollars while underperforming their counterparts in less developed countries. Unless we start to address the issue of accountability and see improvements in dengue cases, Zika may soon rival dengue.

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