Staff Reporters
May 26, 2022

A campaign to curtail dengue with curtains

Akash Digital and Grey Bangladesh sought inspiration from the African wild to tame a dengue epidemic.

In Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh—densely populated urban slums that are home to 5.3 million people—is a hotbed for dengue outbreaks. As the country dealt with Covid, it was battling another exploding epidemic with dengue cases piling up, driven by crowded confines in these slums, with poor hygiene and sanitation providing an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes to thrive and freely transmit the disease. 

However, slums are also social places, with people congregating for festivals, discussing news, meeting for tea, communal TV watching, and more. They tend to do this outdoors and are likely to be more exposed to Aedes mosquitos. With limited availability of mosquito repellents and the impracticality of being cooped up under a net, dengue was running rife in Dhaka. A research paper suggested over a fifth of dengue patients are from the lower-income strata.

To try to help out, Akash Digital TV, a direct-to-home service in Bangladesh, and Grey Dhaka turned to the African wild for a solution. Research done by the Aichi Agricultural Research Center, AG school at Kyoto University found that in the animal planet, zebras get less attacked by mosquitoes because of their black-and-white pattern. The pattern creates an illusion in the compound of the eyes of mosquitos, which derails their landing. 

With this insight, a pilot project in Dhaka's largest Korail slum began with an awareness and activation campaign, followed by the distribution of zebra-striped curtains among households, free of cost. The curtains were put on the doors and windows of homes as well as on the boundary walls, aimed at deterring mosquitoes from this area.


Agency: Grey Bangladesh
Brand Name: Akash Digital TV
Client name: BEXIMCO Communications

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