Swine flu: Health ministry scrambles to assist states

States have also been advised to involve district collectors in enhancing public awareness and outbreak response, a health ministry statement said. PTI photo

In view of soaring cases of swine flu and deaths due to the disease in 11 states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab, the Union Health Ministry has deputed a public health team to Rajasthan to assess the situation and assist the state in strengthening its response.

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan also directed officials to send additional teams to Gujarat and Punjab.

States have also been advised to involve district collectors in enhancing public awareness and outbreak response, a health ministry statement said.

The death toll in the country this year due to swine flu has soared to 226 with the H1N1 virus claiming 31 more lives in a week till Monday, while the number of those affected crossed the 6,000 mark.

Rajasthan has recorded 85 deaths and 2,263 cases while Gujarat reported 43 deaths and 898 people being infected with H1N1 virus. According to government data, Punjab reported 30 deaths and 250 cases of swine flu.

The Union Ministry of Health on Wednesday recommended vaccination for healthcare workers and other priority groups. 

In a high-powered meeting with senior officers of the Health Ministry, Union health secretary Preeti Sudan reviewed the state of preparedness and action taken to deal with H1N1 influenza cases.

The guidelines for influenza vaccination were shared with all states and the details of manufacturers of vaccine provided by Drug Controller General of India was shared with all states. Communication material for preventive measures has also been shared with all the states.

"Majority of cases have been reported from 11 states (and majority of deaths have been reported from Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab. Deaths have been in seen more in persons having co morbidities like diabetes, hypertension etc," the ministry said in a statement.

Regular video conferences are being held to monitor the situation.

Advisory for preparedness to seasonal influenza A (H1N1) was issued and Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and its State units have enhanced the surveillance for Influenza like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI), the statement stated.

IDSP assisted lab network of 12 laboratories are providing laboratory support in terms of testing, quality assurance, guidance, providing viral transport mediums and diagnostic reagents.

The laboratory network of ICMR (41 labs) has also been activated to test for H1N1 cases and beyond above laboratories support from MoHFW, states also have their identified state government and private laboratories for testing clinical samples of seasonal influenza A (H1N1).

In addition, NCDC is providing diagnostic kits and viral transport medium kits to states to be used in laboratories/ hospitals identified by state governments.

The states have been asked to follow the MoHFW guidelines of seasonal influenza A (H1N) available at NCDC website (https://ncdc.gov.in/ or https://mohfw.gov.in/media/disease-alerts/Seasonal-Influenza/technical-g...).

According to the statement, Oseltamivir, the drug recommended by WHO is being made available through the Public Health System free of cost.

Drug controller general of India has been asked to coordinate with drug manufacturers and monitor the drug availability in various states.

The ministry has recommended vaccination for health care workers and other priority groups. The guidelines for influenza vaccination have been shared with al states.

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Swine flu: Health ministry scrambles to assist states

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