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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
HomeEditorialHealth department failed in controlling swine flu deaths

Health department failed in controlling swine flu deaths

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In spite of tall claims of Maharashtra Health department, recently 1,705 people had tested positive for the contagion in the state since the beginning of the year. Swine flu has begun to raise its ugly head over Maharashtra, with the state already registering 11 deaths in June this year. The state’s public health department has assured that preventive measures are being taken to curb the menace but they failed in controlling the deaths so far. They said that they have intensified the surveillance by taking up vaccination drive but still they are not able to reach the maximum of rural areas. Urban areas and its slums have different challenges altogether. As per the recent data shared by the state public health department, few patients are on ventilator. At least 139 deaths have been registered between January and June this year. Pune has recorded the highest number of deaths (44) followed by Nagpur (34), Nashik (31), Kolhapur (12) and Mumbai (04). Sixteen deaths have been recorded in rest of the state. The rainy season has spurred transmission of viruses, including the swine flu virus.

People should exercise caution. Over 21,286 people were given Oseltamivir pills, an antiviral medication used to treat influenza A and influenza B between January and June 2019. However, there is no check whether the medicines are consumed or not, just distribution of medicine is not enough. There is dearth of staff and surveillance team to keep check and records. More than hundred patients are admitted to the hospitals, around 1,411 patients have been discharged. Over 23,000 hit by H1N1 this year in 2019.The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has stated that H1N1 influenza, considered a winter disease, is affecting patients irrespective of season, geography and age group. The virus has already affected more than 23,000 people across India in 2019 itself, stated NCDC officials. The NCDC comes under the ministry of health and family welfare. There were at least two seasons for the virus. One season considered to be January-March and the second one is August-October. Seasons are called a ‘major peak’ and August-October would be a ‘minor peak’. Now, this has reversed.

June and July this year seems to be the major peak. The influenza virus has trans-equatorial transmission — that is it moves from the Northern Hemisphere to Southern Hemisphere and vice-versa. Fifty-two people have died in Maharashtra due to swine flu till this week, revealed data provided by the state’s public health department. Also, a drastic change in weather sparked off the cases. The highest number of casualties has been reported from Nashik district (15 deaths), followed by Nagpur (nine deaths) and Pune (six deaths). According to the recent data released by the Health Department, around 5,28,414 people have been screened for swine flu of which 675 patients were confirmed. Around 11 people from Pune and two from Nagpur were put on ventilators. With dominant flu strains frequently changing, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a new vaccine each year against the most dominant influenza strains. For 2018-19, WHO, a specialised agency of the United Nations, has recommended the quadrivalent vaccine, which protects A (H1N1) pdm09, influenza A (H3N2), and among B viruses, B-Yamagata lineage and B-Victoria lineage.

A new strain of influenza virus, officially named the “new H1N1”, first identified in April 2009, and commonly called “Swine flu” initially spread in Mexico and then globally by transmission. It is thought to be a mutation of four known strains of the influenza A virus, subtype H1N1: one endemic in (normally infecting) humans, one endemic in birds, and two endemic in pigs (swine). Experts assume the virus “most likely” emerged from pigs in Asia, and was carried to North America by infected persons. The virus typically spreads from coughs and sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the nose or mouth. Symptoms, which can last up to a week, are similar to those of seasonal flu, and may include fever, sneezes, sore throat, coughs, headache, and muscle or joint pains.

The first death was a 14-year-old girl in Pune, Maharashtra. On 8th and 9th August, 2010 a 43-year-old man in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a 42-year-old teacher in Pune and a 53-year-old woman in Mumbai died. On August 10, 2009 a 53-year-old doctor in Pune and a 4-year-old in Chennai died. On August 11, 2009 a seven-year-old girl in Vadodara, Gujarat died. On August 13, a 26-year-old woman became Bengaluru’s first victim of swine flu. An eleven-month-old boy, a 75-year-old woman and a 37-year-old woman died taking the toll in Pune, severely hit by the virus, to 15 and across the country, to 24. A lady having a young daughter of five yrs died near Mumbai in Khopoli on August 14, 2009. On August 13, three people died at different hospitals in Bengaluru, according to the reports. The death toll of the H1N1 flu in India is rising in leaps and bounds. Within the short span of a little over three months, the mortality figure has shot up to 503.

The whole country is suffering with dengue deaths swine flu; each year government makes tall claims but there is no control over rising issues. I wish at atleast one minister, MP or MLA dies with such fever. In this country ministers never suffer with any natural calamity or terror attacks. Even in riots common man gets killed but they are safe. Unless and until politicians of this country won’t lose their lives there is no cure for the common man. In Pune city in October 2012 year, a total of 34 people have died of dengue fever in the state, between January and October 20. Among them, 16 dengue deaths were reported in October alone, said officials from the state health department. The state government has issued directives to authorities to take preventive steps to check the spread of dengue. Every year they issue such directives on paper and solutions are marked on papers but issues remain in files. From January to October 20, 2012, 931 people were found positive for dengue. Among the 34 dengue deaths so far, the highest number of dengue deaths, seven, were reported from Jalgaon alone. State surveillance officer of state health department is busy counting the death records but no one is there to save lives.

Another state health official attributed the rise in dengue cases to shortage of water leading to storage, rapid urbanisation and burgeoning construction activities. Unplanned growth and construction activities are some reasons for dengue cases in urban areas. In the rural parts, the state has a team of 12,000 multipurpose workers who go door-to-door and take stock of the situation every fortnight. As many as 16 sentinel centres for diagnosis of dengue were set up in the state in 2008. It is among the reasons why more cases are being detected.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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