HIGH VIRAL ALERTS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

by
Aneeqa
Pakistan :low on countrywide publicity work about swine flu safety "Asthma sufferers more at risk of swine flu"

After indentifying 13000 confirmed cases in the United States and more than 5700 in Mexico, Swine flu is extending its reach to the developing countries like India with 454 cases out of which 246 alone in its capital city Delhi and total 35 deaths, China with 80 cases (some sources say 414) but no deaths so far, Egypt with 4124 cases and a raising death toll to 39.

"It is decided to slaughter all swine herds present in Egypt, starting from today," said Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali of Egypt, according to Mena news agency. Cairo airport has installed virus monitoring counters for passenger screenings especially arriving from Mexico, while India and China are closing down schools. But the question remains. Are there improved facilities in the third world countries to provide health care services, scientific and medical networks and to collect data from the WHO.

The WHO has raised high alerts in the developing countries, warning them to increase public awareness, store antivirals and vaccines; though initially the recommendations were ignored and facts were hid by the governments till the virus jumped over. When recently two pregnant women died of the virus in Pakistan, they established a swine flu test laboratory in Islamabad for the total population of 170 million.!

With leading hospitals in Karachi and few others in Islamabad and Lahore, have organized swine flu seminars and awareness programs, while 65% of the Pakistani rural population can only afford the nearby clinics, is still unaware of the modern disease H1N1.  The first case of Swine flu was confirmed on the 11th of August 2009 in the National institute of Health Islamabad and the first death was reported on the 10th of December 2009 in Karachi.

Having shared a common border with China and India (both inflicted heavily with the virus) the risks of Swine Flu sweeping into Pakistan were greater. And unfortunately Pakistani officials have been too late in responding, with 42 cases already registered in the region of Karachi only.

When questioned to the Ministry of health about the delayed awareness of this world wide spread of an incurable disease they said that hospitals were required to report at the earliest to the health department of the Swine flu patients they treated – reported The Dawn, an English newspaper in Pakistan. On the other hand doctors of private hospitals including Dr Bushra Jamil, head of the infectious control committee of the Agha Khan University Hospital blame the late-reporting from the government which caused difficulties in tracking swine flu cases.

 According to a national newspaper in Karachi, majority of the confirmed and suspected swine flu patients in Pakistan are the teenagers and people in their 20s. Doctors working at the Sindh government said that asthma patients are at high risk of swine flu. And they are required to take asthma control medicines properly, should cover their nose and mouth when they cough and sneeze and throw the tissues into the dustbin after using it.

So far the most effective swine flu campaign is been launched by the administration of the Islamabad International Airport. Reported by the Civil Aviation Authority that the airport administration in collaboration with the health department had launched a comprehensive campaign which included putting up banners in the lounges, corridors, providing safety gels, gloves, masks and precautionary kits to the staff, lecturing the staff regarding the flu, installing separate counters for screening passengers and extending duty hours of health staff at the airport. Awareness to the passengers had be given through handbills and loud speakers by announcing precautionary instructions, while local airlines were required to install multimedia and radio to provide air safety messages in the plane.

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