Reports of new Swine FLu cases trickling in is not good news for Indian Healthcare. The Infrastructure is already dealing with dengue and malaria. More than 12,000 cases have been reported already this year and that is a two fold increase over last year. This week more than 55 cases have been reported in UP with Lucknow recording more than 20 cases. Swine Flu has already claimed 600 deaths, more than half of them coming in Maharashtra.
This is a worrying sign for the healthcare establishment as last year it looked like we were getting a handle of the situation. This year it looks like we are back to square one. Even celebrities like Aamir Khan have not been spared this year and are recovering from the condition.
Government has been taking action to combat Swine Flu according to a report in the Times of India. To ensure wider availability and accessibility of Oseltamivir, the drug for treatment of influenza, has been put in schedule H1 on June 22, which means they can be sold by all licensed chemists against prescription. Earlier, they belonged to Schedule X category, wherein only certain selected pharmacies were authorised to stock and sell the medicine.
The state administration in UP for example had asked all district hospitals to hold a few beds in isolation wards to treat patients with Swine Flu. The center has dispatched rapid response teams to states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and UP.
Understandably the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation is on war footing, coordinating efforts with hospitals in Mumbai, setting up a helpline to address queries from citizens on Swine Flu and putting out instructions on their website, to stem the spread of the condition.
Early this year we had carried a piece on simple steps to protect against Swine Flu based on an interview with Dr Rini Banerjee, Consultant Infectious Disease, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur
- Wash hands multiple times a day thoroughly using soap and water; if you are out of home, make it a point to wash hands often or clean hands with alcohol based hand sanitizers.
- Avoid touching objects like doors, seats, tables, handles at public places; they might be carrying the virus. If you touch, clean hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizers
- Drink plenty of water and fluids and consume fresh fruits which contain vitamin C to boost your immunity; this is the best way to ward off the virus
- Always cover your nose and mouth with a paper napkin or handkerchief when you sneeze and discard them in a closed dust bin. If you do not have them hand -sneeze or cough into the sleeve of your clothes
- If you feel ill, stay at home and seek a doctor’s help, and avoid contact with other people to keep from spreading the infection to others.
- Get vaccinated if you are in the high risk group – people who work in crowded places, elderly, children, people who have lung or respiratory diseases / cardiac disease /pregnant women/diabetes/kidney disease
- Avoid handshakes and hugs; stick to verbal greetings when you meet people
- Wear light coloured/ cotton clothes
- Children should avoid the sun and should go out in the mornings or evening (after sunset) to play.
- For office goers, if the office is small, make sure to open the windows to increase ventilation
- Elderly people and children should try to be in cooler places to avoid heat –related illnesses.
- Heat can lead to water scarcity and use of contaminated water in various places. Hence avoid drinking water or juices outside. If you can’t avoid it completely, make sure that you check that the water is safe for drinking. Diarrhoea is one of the main ailments that can arise due to consumption of contaminated water.
So take care and stay healthy