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The Big Picture – Swine Flu: Assuming epidemic proportions?

Summary:

The way the Swine flu or H1N1 VIRUS is spreading across India, has become a serious cause for

concern. Over 670 people have died so far and 10000 affected. The worst hit states are Rajasthan

with 191 deaths, 155 deaths in Gujarat and 90 deaths in Madhya Pradesh so far. Some other states

like Delhi, UP, Haryana and Punjab are also affected by the Virus. This year’s toll is the highest since

2008 when the virus was found and spread from the US to other parts of the world including India.

This virus now seems to be assuming pandemic proportions.

 

Experts call this one as a seasonal and contagious disease. This is also airborne disease. The intensity

is increased in winter and it decreases in summer. Since Northern states had prolonged winter this

year, the disease had some greater impacts. When patients come late for treatment it is difficult to

treat them. Vulnerable section includes people above 60, children below 5, pregnant women, heavy

smokers, diabetic people, People with transplants and people having cardio problems.

 

The district hospitals and state medical colleges are prepared to handle such worst diseases. With

frontline/ primary health workers providing the support majority of the cases can be treated at

home. Middle level health care centres and colleges need institutional support to fight such

diseases. With right approach the disease can be prevented.

Some of the reasons for the spread:

 Government and media wake up late.

 Lack of awareness.

 No campaigns.

It is also being said that since the disease was known, government should have bothered about

creating awareness about the disease. The medicines are costly too. 1 to 2% of H1N1 cases are fatal.

In Delhi deaths were low since people were aware of the disease and healthcare facilities were also

good. Tamiflu medicine is used to treat the disease. It is also being said that population explosion is

responsible for 50% of the problems. There also seems to be panic present even among the health

workers.

0.29% of the GDP is allocated to the health sector in India’s health budget. 30% of the budget is

unspent and in current financial year the budget expenditure on Health has also been cut. There is

also a notion that infectious diseases are treated only in government hospitals and is a state burden.

There is a need for private sectors to step in. Apart from budgetary support, institutional

strengthening is necessary. Focus should be increased at the state level and district level. Both the

public and private sector should come together to help the government and work together.

Government has to put in adult vaccination program for this disease. Enough isolations wards should

be created in hospitals.

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