No H1N1 vaccine at SKIMS, not even for staff

No H1N1 vaccine at SKIMS, not even for staff
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GMC principal says patients should buy from market

Srinagar: The Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura has not procured any swine-flu (H1N1) vaccines this year. A SKIMS administrator, wishing anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that the purchase of vaccines was stopped because of apprehensions that the stock may go waste, as happened last year.
“We had to discard nearly 2000 vials (of vaccines) last year as nobody purchased them from us. So, this year we didn’t buy them,” the administrator said. “We don’t have vaccines even for employees,” he added.
According to the official, the hospital has enough of Tamiflu injections for treatment of H1N1 patients.
Principal of GMC Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid, said it was not possible for hospitals to procure vaccines for every patient, and that patients could be asked to buy them from the market.
Kashmir’s health authorities have been caught napping as H1N1, also known as Influenza A, has assumed serious proportions in the valley, especially in hospitals where patients’ immunities are compromised.
Over the last four days, four deaths have taken place at SKIMS Soura due to the influenza. Officials are also reporting escalation in cases tested positive for H1N1.
“Two of the deceased were from Budgam district. They had tested positive for H1N1, while two other patients who died in the hospital since Sunday were suspected cases. Their test results are awaited,” sources in SKIMS said.
A male from Budgam, admitted at the hospital, died of the flu on Monday while a 20-year-old female from Budgam died Tuesday morning. Both were suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, hospital authorities said.
Two more patients, a 60-year-old male and a female, suspected of having contracted H1N1, had died at SKIMS on Sunday. “Their test reports are still awaited,” said a doctor.
SKIMS Soura and Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar have set up isolation wards and ventilator beds for suspected cases. However, doctors said that the facilities are not enough, given the sudden spurt in patients arriving at the hospital for H1N1 tests.
“Only Tamiflu drugs are available with SKIMS Soura and GMC hospitals,” an official privy to the procurement of medicine at the two hospitals revealed.
Dr Samia Rashid said that they have vaccines available only for employees who handle H1N1 cases in the isolation ward. “It’s not possible for us to buy vaccines for everybody. We can only give them to our employees who are vulnerable. People have been asked to buy vaccines from the open market,” she said.
While treatment plan and guidelines strictly recommend that ventilators, portable X-ray machines, large oxygen cylinders and pulse oxymeters be made mandatory in isolation wards, SKIMS and GMC Srinagar don’t have adequate facilities, sources said.
“We are forced to send most of the suspected cases to SKIMS Soura as the Chest Diseases hospital doesn’t have proper testing facility available,” sources said.
A senior official said that no other hospital had kept separate facilities available for H1N1 patients. He said the designated hospitals also lack staff for ICU and isolation wards.
Director Health, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, told Kashmir Reader that various steps have been taken for checking the spread of H1N1.
“We had already started an awareness campaign in August. A fresh advisory has also been issued. Officials at peripheral hospitals were asked to take proper care of flu patients to avoid unnecessary burden, but they can be referred for advanced treatment to SKIMS if needed,” he said.


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