Nirmalya Dutta, Feb 20, 2013
something very familiar with the way swine flu news filters in from
around the country. As the temperatures dip, the authorities of various
states claim that the situation is under control, there is enough stock
of medicine, enough laboratories to test the virus, enough wards in
government hospitals to keep the victims isolated, etc. etc… ad nauseum.
Despite this, news of deaths and positive cases of swine continues.
Since the 2009 pandemic,
there is clearly no strategy in place to prevent the disease from
spreading. At best, the state government’s initiatives can be termed as
treating the victims. The problem with the swine flu H1N1 virus is that
it’s becoming more and more difficult to diagnose and treat due to
several viral strains that have been traced such as H1N1, H3N1 and H3N2.
Why India is more vulnerable to swine flu?
India is even more vulnerable because of its climate. While in most
countries the swine flu virus makes an appearance during the winter
season, in India it surfaces twice a year – during the monsoon and
winter seasons. Add to that the fact, that our population density is
very high, public places and transport is overcrowded and there’s utter
disregard for sanitation and hygiene. There’s also a lack of awareness
about the disease and many people still believe that virus spreads from
pigs. The swine flu situation actually points out the deficiencies of
India’s public health system.
What needs to be done?