Mosquitoes & vulnerable spaces: Mapping local knowledge of sites for dengue control in Seremban and Putrajaya Malaysia

Mosquitoes & vulnerable spaces: Mapping local knowledge of sites for dengue control in Seremban and Putrajaya Malaysia

Dickin, S. K., Schuster-Wallace, C. J., & Elliott, S. J. (2014). Mosquitoes & vulnerable spaces: Mapping local knowledge of sites for dengue control in Seremban and Putrajaya Malaysia. Applied Geography, 46, 71-79.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection that continues to represent a significant health challenge in many tropical and subtropical regions. At a local scale, dengue prevention and control is a cooperative effort as favorable vector breeding sites may be found across residential, commercial and public spaces within a community. However, many vector control initiatives do not take into account local understanding of dengue risk and how this impacts the actions of residents to prevent dengue by eliminating breeding sources. The objective of this study was to use a participatory mapping approach to identify spatial perceptions of risk to dengue at a community scale. Four mapping groups were formed in two urban Malaysian communities that have experienced high dengue rates, divided into male and female groups to encourage gender equity. Participants were asked to draw a map of areas they associated with dengue and mosquito breeding in their communities, and to describe the important features on the map. Sketch map features were digitized into a GIS to create a georeferenced map of community knowledge, translating the outputs into formats accessible to stakeholders. Community spaces linked to dengue identified in the mapping exercises differed between the two communities, and included green spaces, construction projects, drainage networks and abandoned land areas. The findings indicated that resident perceptions of some vulnerable areas, such as green spaces, differed from the views of local public health staff, and could influence the actions of residents to adequately destroy breeding sites. This highlights the need to understand local knowledge of mosquito breeding in order to enhance co-operative efforts with vector-control workers, and increase the effectiveness of dengue prevention efforts at a local scale in Malaysia.