The number of reported victims who died from dengue increased to from 228 in 2014 to 338 in Malaysia last year. This represents a 56. 3% increase in just a year.
The total number of dengue cases has also increased by 11.2% in the same period which makes dengue one of the main healthcare challenges for Malaysia at present.
Earlier this week, a technological development may have come in as a timely intervention to curb this pressing issue.
Researchers from the University of Malaya have developed a lighting system that could draw mosquitoes to LED street lamps and away from potential victims.
The LED street lamp utilise renewable wind and solar energy and emits low levels of carbon-dioxide. The low levels of CO2 made from the reaction of UV light and titanium dioxide to mimic the scent of humans.
Head researcher, Dr Chen Wen Tong, explains how the suction of this device virtually eliminates the mosquitos from the surroundings.
"The mosquito trap takes advantage of the mosquito’s sensory abilities by tricking them with features that mimic the odours associated with humans."
“Decoyed mosquitoes enter the trap through the capture windows on the upper part, and then are strongly sucked into the capture net in the lower part by a suction fan. Once they are sucked into the capture net, they cannot fly away.” said Dr Chen
Rising cases of dengue is not only a pressing issue in Malaysia but also the entire Asia-Pacific region where 1.8 billion people are at risk. Several ASEAN countries faced a sharp spike in dengue cases last year.
These countries are challenged with a strain on their healthcare resources in recent months.
In addition, dengue fever has significant economical implication accounting for an annual economic cost of about US$2 billion in Asia, annually.
With high levels of inequity in the Asia-Pacific, the nature of this device using renewable energy serves both the developed and developing regions as explained by Dr Chen.
“For remote areas with no access to the electrical grid, this system can serve as a stand-alone, self-sustained renewable energy source to supply basic electricity needs. It is scalable to match the energy demand,” he said.
This technology can represent a step to long term solutions in beating the ‘’fastest spreading tropical disease in the world’’ as described by the World Health Organisation.
These LED street lamps are already up and running with 8 lamps being installed around University of Malaya campus as part of its pilot testing project.
In addition, the first version of the light is ready to be marketed and obtain licensing agreements with one private company having already been signed.
These lamps are also viable economic options for governments. Due to its dependency on renewable energy, installation of these lamps in urban areas requires minimal landscape intervention.
This is because these lamps do not need to establish an electrical connection with the existing power generating systems that are already in place.