San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Private Businesses Unite Against Dengue

A group of private businesses has joined forces with the public-health sector in a campaign to reduce the incidence of dengue fever in Costa Rica by 50% this year, the daily La República reported.

Riteve, Holcim Costa Rica, Empresarios Unidos, Bridgestone Firestone, Florida Bebidas, Corporación de Supermercados Unidos, Corporación Bananera Nacional (CORBANA), Tuasa and the Costa Rican Hotel Chamber have agreed to work with the government to fight the disease, which affected 37,000 people in Costa Rica last year.

The epidemic cost the Social Security System (Caja) ¢4 billion ($8 million) in 2005, according to the daily. The new private-public alliance will have a budget of as much as ¢60 million ($120,000), and the Caja will invest ¢20 million ($40,000) in a radio and television campaign to raise awareness about dengue prevention. The campaign began this week.

In addition, Cervecería de Costa Rica, the national brewery, plans to invest more than ¢41 million ($82,000) in its program “Barrida Contra el Dengue” (“Sweeping Out Dengue”), which runs 20 cleaning days in the 20 most at-risk cantons of the country.

Government organizations collaborating in the effort, besides Social Security and the Public Health Ministry, are the Public Education Ministry, the Episcopal Conference and the Municipality of San José, La República reported.

Each participating business will have a different role in the anti-dengue effort. Riteve, for example, will collect tires – a common collection point for the standing water in which dengue mosquitoes breed – from April to October, and Holcim will burn the tires.

Dengue is transmitted by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can breed in as little as 24 hours in any standing water.

During last year’s epidemic, the Public Health Ministry maintained that eliminating such water at a community level is the most effective means to combat dengue. Flooding last year on both coasts made the problem particularly severe.

Two people died of hemorrhagic dengue, a more serious form of the disease, in Costa Rica last year – the first such deaths since 1999 (TT, Oct. 14, 2005).


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