A senior health official on Thursday accused insecticide vendors of conducting a disinformation campaign that links this year’s outbreak of dengue fever to the federal government’s later than usual purchase of the product.
Confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne tropical disease more than tripled in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period of 2018, but federal health authorities didn’t spend anything on insecticides until early August.
In the past, the government has finalized insecticide purchases between May and June.
Health Secretariat undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell told reporters at the presidential press conference that the delay this year was a byproduct of efforts to stamp out corruption within the department and because experts were consulted about the use of insecticides to combat dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
However, he pointed out that two-thirds of insecticides for the control of dengue are purchased by state governments.
“From the beginning of the year, money is transferred to state health secretariats and they make the purchases,” López-Gatell said, explaining that the federal government buys insecticide later in the year because it only assists spraying efforts when the states’ own capacity to combat mosquitoes is exceeded.
“We’ve been subjected to a disinformation campaign by parties and groups with interests in the sale of insecticides,” López-Gatell said, referring to statements that blamed the government for this year’s increase in dengue cases.
“This is a market that is worth more than 900 million pesos [US $45.7 million] annually from the federal [government] purchase alone. What we’ve seen is what we’ve seen in almost all health supplies issues – concentrated markets, mafia-controlled markets. Two large groups competing for control of general [government] purchases,” he added.
The undersecretary also said that the first line of defense against dengue is not mosquito spraying but rather ensuring that water doesn’t accumulate in and around people’s homes in receptacles such as discarded tires.
Residents and local governments also have a responsibility to prevent the accumulation of water in public spaces, López-Gatell said.
The official said that 120 people have died this year after contracting dengue fever but explained that in many cases those who succumbed to the disease waited too long to seek the medical care they required.
Source: El Financiero (sp)