Clean up Mauritius, clean up the mindset, the mentality

Mr Anil Gujadhur is right when he states in his article ‘Clean up Mauritius – Clean up the World’ in the Mauritius Times of 4th October 2013: “The team which has set out to clean up Mauritius… will be sending a critical signal that the authorities alone cannot take up what is essentially every citizen’s responsibility,” and those who leave rubbish behind even where there are refuse bins close at hand seem to think “let others rid the place, if they want, of the rubbish.”

May I add that the mindset of some people can really be a challenge. While I was working as physician at SSRN Hospital, one day I went into a ward to carry out my round and on reaching the ward sister’s office she told me not to proceed further because the flooring was quite wet, saying that it has been so every one of the mornings since a certain patient has been doing her ablution and that she would soon be coming out of the washroom. True enough, a lady of about 60 years of age appeared and I could not refrain from telling her that wet flooring can be dangerous to herself and others. She did not answer but gave me her dark looks. The ward sister then said: “Docteur, elle n’a pas osé vous répondre, mais quand nous lui disons de ne pas salir inutilement, elle répond: ‘Apé paye zotte pou nettoyer.” That shocked me and I thought about a retort, a “reparti” with a good and sure therapeutic effect on such a sick mind.

For nearly a year I told about the incident to many people, including the Reverend Henri Souchon and a Primary Schools Inspector, and asked them what they would have replied to such a person but got no immediate answer. Then one day while I was talking about that very same problem to a primary school friend and while he was reflecting on it, the Fire Services lorry went along SSR Street sounding the alarm, and I then said to my friend: “Mo fine trouver, mo pour réponne ou conné apé paye pompiers pou teigne difé, commence par mette di fé dans ou la case.”

I can’t help feeling sorry for those employed to clean the streets especially in the hot, dusty, and motorvehicle smoke ridden streets who have to suffer because of the mindset of a few people.

I wonder what has happened to “ou zetté ou payé” or some similar slogans.

I have recently come back from China where I noticed how some old people were at different tourist sites collecting empty plastic bottles and when I gave them mine they would bow and thank me. They would also be found collecting empty aluminum cans.

While actively on the lookout, throughout those 25 days in various parts of China. I have never found a vehicle emitting visible smoke, and incidentally never broken-down traffic lights. In the past 10 days, twice such unfunctioning lights have been noticed in Port Louis by me.

Last Thursday I happened to walk through the ‘Jardin de la Compagnie’, and was struck by the number of pigeon’s droppings on the ground. It is highly likely that some must have fallen on some people’s head or clothing. Laundry hanged out to dry must have had to be washed anew as many a housewife could tell us. Last Saturday, Emmanuel Anquetil Building was being hosed because mostly of the pigeons’ droppings, especially in these times of water shortage. And to think that many people are feeding them with bread subsidized by the government! I think the authorities could have done better by suppressing the pigeons instead of the crows; at least the “corbeaux” act as scavengers on our streets by eating up the carrion.

I know that many people take care to wrap and tie up their rubbish in plastic bags but stray dogs tear them up and the wind takes over. What has happened to the programmes of sterilization of bitches and of control of stray dogs?

Although about 10 years ago a meeting was held at the Ministry of the Environment regarding a National Rat Eradication Campaign, so far nothing has come out of it and rats continue to cause much damage e.g. water hose in cars, and electric wiring in different places being gnawed with risks of short circuits or electrocution, diseases such as leptospirosis (fatal in about half of the cases) and rat-bite fever. In that respect and being given the nuisance caused by houseflies and cockroaches, readers are invited to read “A Physician’s Concern” (reproduced below) and to comment thereon.

I shall not claim intellectual property rights if anyone or a NGO wants to put the ideas into action.

* * *

A Physician’s Concern

Everybody knows that houseflies and cockroaches are vectors of many infectious diseases and that rats are vectors of leptospirosis and rat-bite fevers.

It is, therefore, highly desirable to get rid of them in our Republic and, in my opinion, it can be done.

Houseflies

For houseflies, I envisage the distribution “gratis” to every household, snack shop, restaurant and hotel vis dispensaries, health centre, village councils and municipalities, of four “sachets” of a fly-bait granular sugar coated with fly-poison. A clear message NOT to use them is printed on the “sachets” until told to do so viz: radios, TV and newspapers.

After ascertaining that all households, etc., have had their supply, a countdown is started, e.g., a week before, let us say 1st March. Then a message goes out via the media to open the first “sachets” on that date and expose the contents in the kitchen and places where the flies are likely to be present, but out of reach of children and out of likely contact with food. People would then soon see the flies upside-down and convulsing and dead within a few minutes.

Next, the sanitary authorities are on the lookout for newly-hatched flies and the population is told to put out the contents of the second “sachet”. This will kill the juveniles before they can lay eggs. A new hatching may follow in cooler places and this could be dealt with the third “sachet”. The fourth one is to be used as soon as anybody sees new flies.

If, at the same time, this is done in Rodrigues and the Outer Islands; if all airplanes are sprayed with anti-flies insecticides at the airports of departure for Mauritius; and if all the ships carrying foodstuffs likely to be harboring the flies are likewise treated; the campaign should be a success being given our insularity.

Cockroaches

Regarding cockroaches, there is the highly effective chalk with which one can use to draw two parallel lines on the doors of larders, on drawers and around chinks or cracks through which cockroaches emerge from their hiding at night. In this case, too, people should do so simultaneously all over the country, for example on a 1st March, and again one month later, plus maybe, a second month later.

Rats

For rats, there is a product on sale in India, known as “EPIBLOC” (I do not recall its generic name). Male rats which have consumed it get their epididymises permanently obstructed and when they mate, no more rats will be produced. So, if the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, the Ministry of the Environment and National Development Unit, the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure and External Communication and the Ministry of Education and Human Resource coordinate the distribution and use the “EPIBLOC” the rat population will die out in Mauritius.

Parallel control of rats on board the ships, e.g., with metal discs on the mooring ropes, should help ensure success.

I hope our Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, who are both medical doctors, will appreciate and give their blessings and their support.

To your good health, dear Mauritians.

Reproduced from The Medical Council of Mauritius Newsletter No 3


* Published in print edition on 18 October 2013

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