SRINAGAR: Following an advisory from the Union Health Ministry that states should step up preparedness to combat HINI influenza, hospitals in Kashmir valley have geared up to check the virus.
The state health department seems to have learnt lessons from last year’s experience when 138 people were detected positive for swine flu and the associated hospitals of government medical college (GMC) were caught unawares. There were no testing facilities available to detect the cases. Hospitals were also running short of anti-viral drugs.
This year the hospitals seem to be ready to tackle the virus. In Jammu and Kashmir, 43 samples were sent for testing and only two have been detected positive. Both the cases have been reported in Jammu. As of now there is no case of HINI influenza anywhere in Kashmir valley. However the hospitals are in ready mode as isolation wards have been kept ready and medicines too have been stocked.
Dr Abdul Majid Ganaie, Head and Professor Community Medicine at SK Institute of Medical Sciences while talking to Kashmir Reader said that cases of swine flu were expected in January-February but none has been reported. “We need not be complacent because the virus might get active in these months. In rest of the states, we see cases of swine flu in summer, so we need to be careful. And if an advisory has been issued, we should take it seriously,” he said.
Associated hospitals like SMHS, GB pant and Chest Diseases hospitals have identified some wards and converted them into isolation wards for the patients, if any. A paid room in SMHS hospitals too has been kept for Swine Flu patients. In GB pant hospital, one isolation ward has been kept ready with eight beds. Similarly in CD hospital, 18 bedded isolation ward has been kept ready for H1N1 patients.
Principal Government Medical College (GMC) Dr Kaiser Ahmad told Kashmir Reader, “We are prepared to tackle H1N1 inflenza. We have kept everything in place. Medicines for H1N1 are available on drug counters; every health worker has been vaccinated.”
The H1N1 testing laboratory which is under construction at CD hospital has not been made functional yet. But the equipment has been shifted to the Medical Research Unit at GMC for testing H1N1 cases.
“Last year when the cases of H1N1 were detected, we were sending the swabs for testing to SK Institute of Medical Sciences. But this year we have the testing facility available in the hospital,” Dr Kaiser said.
Medical Superintendent of SK Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura Farooq Jan said, “Everything had been put in place even before the advisory came. We have already kept 18 beds for the H1N1 patients with proper facility of ventilators. Also we have kept medicines available in our drug store.”
In district hospitals too, the preparedness seems good. Though the space constraint has allowed the district hospitals to earmark only one room for the H1N1 patients.
Chief Medical Officer of a district hospital wishing anonymity said, “ Isolation wards have been earmarked; some of the staff members have been assigned the task of dealing with the H1N1 patients in addition to their routine duties.” Director Health Services Kashmir Dr Samir Matoo couldn’t be contacted despite repeated calls and messages.