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Swine flu: Is Modi-led government doing too little too late?

By Harshmeet Singh

Even as the health departments reiterate their stand repeatedly by claiming that ‘everything is under control’, the H1N1 swine flu virus continues to spread rapidly across the country. As we write this, more than 22,000 people from different parts of the country have been tested positive with this virus, with over 400 of them losing their lives.

The situation on the ground

Rajasthan, Gujarat and Delhi are the worst hit states, with Gujarat imposing section 144 in Ahmedabad to stop mass gathering in order to check swine flu. While a number of people have been proactive in buying masks and wearing them at public places, the fact remains that most of these masks aren’t equipped to prevent the virus from entering your respiratory system. The pore size of many such  masks is bigger than the virus itself, making them ineffective. While the clinically certified masks are also available in the market, they cost 20 times more than the normal masks. Also, unless these masks are disposed carefully after use, the threat of the virus doesn’t fade away.

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Patients from a number of cities have also reported trouble in getting tamiflu medicine, the only proven cure of swine flu. According to the hospitals, many people are buying tamiflu without getting themselves tested, which is resulting into a shortage of drug. Since its symptoms are similar to normal seasonal flu, people have started taking the medicine as a ‘precautionary measure’ without consulting a doctor.

One of the other reasons leading to shortage of tamiflu is that it is a Schedule X drug, which is sold by  a very few drug stores. A Schedule X drug can only be sold if the buyer presents a prescription from a qualified doctor. Additionally, the retailer is required to keep a copy of the prescription for the next couple of years after sale of the drug.

Experts say that a rise in temperature would bring down the number of cases since the virus thrives in cold climate.

What is the Government up to?

The Government, on its part, has begun procurement of 60,000 units of tamiflu medicine along with 10,000 N-95 masks (clinically certified for protection from swine flu virus). About 10,000 diagnostic kits are also in the process of being procured by the Government to ensure that there is no shortage of logistics.

In Delhi, the Government has fixed the fees of diagnostic tests at Rs 4,500. The labs flouting these norms are being given show cause notice by the Government. Although Delhi has seen the largest number of confirmed swine flu cases this year, the death rate in the city is much lower comparatively, owing to much better medical facilities as compared to other parts of the country.

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Some Diagnostic centres for H1N1 swine flu virus in Delhi & Mumbai

 

Metro Heart Institute Faridabad
M I Heart & Women’s Health Care Clinic & Diagnostic Center Sarita Vihar, Delhi
Asha USA Mini Medicine City Gurgaon
Rohini Family Clinic Rohini sector 7, Delhi
SRL Ranbaxy Clinic New Friends Colony, Delhi
Max Multi Speciality Hospital Greater Noida
Dr. Lal path labs Pitampura, Patel Nagar, Hari Nagar and other locations in Delhi
RX Diagnostic Centre Dwarka, Delhi
Micron Laboratory Green Park, Delhi

 

Star Diagnostic & Healthcare centre Andheri West, Mumbai
Way2Health Diagnostic Vashi, Kharghar and Ghansoli, Mumbai
Bhide Laboratory Byculla, Mahalaxmi, Grant Road West, Girgaon, Chembur, Lower Parel and Santacruz West, Mumbai
Atharva Diagnostic Thane East, Mumbai
Chikitsa Pathology Koperkhairane, Mumbai
Darshan Clinic Laboratory Kandivali East, Borivali West, Mumbai
Rudra Diagnostic Goregaon East, Mumbai
Anu Diagnostic & Scan Centre Mulund West, Mumbai

 

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