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Dengue: turning up the volume on a silent disaster


A new report shows that over the past 50 years, dengue has spread from nine countries to over one hundred countries, around the world. The report, from the International federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, says that there are 390 million cases of dengue each year, up from 15,000 cases annually, just 50 years ago, with almost half of the world's population at risk.

Dengue is a preventable flu like virus, which globally causes 500,000 people (mainly children) to be hospitalised each year. Around 12,500 people die from dengue around the world. Australian Red Cross seeks to support the most vulnerable communities in the Asia-Pacific, which has the highest risk of Dengue, and this includes many who are most affected by the dangerous virus.

Close to 205 million people are affected by dengue in the Asia-Pacific each year. Dengue is a major public health issue. It is estimated that South-East Asian economies could lose A$2.56 billion annually due to dengue.

Dengue is a silent disaster affecting many times more people than the well known major natural disasters over recent years. There is no treatment, however good prevention and early treatment can reduce death by half.

Australian Red Cross has a long term engagement with communities, supporting them to have improved health and wellbeing in many of our closest neighbouring countries. Working in partnership with local national Red Cross societies, programs aim to strengthen community health systems by improving sanitation, increasing levels of knowledge on how to protect communities from disease such as dengue and to seek early treatment in cases of illness.

Strengthening community health and wellbeing results in communities that are better placed to detect and deal with the silent disaster and the suffering that dengue and other diseases present.

The report says that all Governments need to strengthen their ability to respond to health and medical care for dengue cases and there needs to be more support for community-based health services which is the key to tackling this major public health issue. It says improved health care and early detection of the disease could reduce the deaths by more than 6000 a year around the world.

Red Cross supports communities to improve their health and wellbeing across the Asia-Pacific.

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Photo: IFRC

Dengue Report

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A new report on dengue shows this preventable disease kills 390 million people a year.