14ymedio, Jancel Moreno, Havana, 27 August 2019 — It’s called “bonebreak fever” because it causes severe pain. This August 26th is International Day for the Fight Against Dengue. Despite the intense official campaign against this disease, secrecy and lack of transparency have weighed against the information citizens receive about the virus. The economic crisis of recent times has also aggravated the situation.
Eleven kilometers from the National Capitol, in Alamar, the epidemiological situation worsens. The Island seems besieged on several sides: by the giant African snail, the constant cases of chikungunya, and Zika. To this is added the inefficient response of health agencies and communal services which contribute to much of the country remaining a true paradise for vector-borne diseases such as Aedes Aegypti.
The situation is nothing new and is not exclusive to this area east of the Cuban capital. But, as in other parts of the country, the residents also lament the lack of hygiene, which results in large puddles of water fed by broken pipes, makeshift garbage dumps and rubble in the public roads. At a time of the year that coincides with school vacations, Alamar’s children spend many hours playing near these foci for mosquitoes.
Although health institutions and cleaning services bear a large part of the responsibility, faults can also be distributed among the neighborhoods. A decade ago, neighbors frequently organized on Sundays to clean their surroundings, and on the stairs of each building one could read posters that called for garbage collection in the surroundings as part of the “commitment to the Revolution” and “support to the Committees of Defense of the Revolution.”
What happened? The difference is that, 10 years ago, the most prominent CDR members — cederistas — were ’rewarded’ by the provision of landlines for their home and were even helped to replace their old TVs with more modern ones. Now, there are no phones to hand out or privileges to offer, so tall grass, leaks and garbage accumulate everywhere.
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