The incidence of dengue fever, an insect-borne infection, has increased dramatically in El Salvador. Most of those affected are children aged 5 to 9 years old. In March 2015, there were 1,266 cases and 2 deaths as a result of the fever.
To address this problem, Plan International El Salvador and the Ministry of Health supported the formation of a youth health committee in the La Libertad region on the Pacific Coast.
The youth committee came up with an innovative solution to combat dengue fever. Fares, a 17-year old member of the committee saw that small fish ate mosquito larvae and could control mosquito populations. Together with Plan International staff, the group decided to create fish-breeding tanks and distribute fish to families across the area. Education campaigns were conducted in schools to achieve long-term change and a project was tested with 900 families in La Libertad.
“They are using the resources available while implementing low-cost sustainable practices that are friendly to the environment and to people’s health,” said Celina Rosales, Plan International’s Programme Manager.
The project model has been recognised by the government, which is now interested in extending it across the country. Fares is particularly pleased and says, “All problems have a solution, the important thing is to find it.”