SRINAGAR: Hundreds of doctors and paramedics handling H1N1 flu patients at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura face a life-threatening situation as the instate administration has failed to devise ‘protective policy’ for them.
According to officials, doctors and paramedics become easy victims of communicable diseases including H1N1 flu and many times contract the disease because vaccination and protective gears are not available in SKIMS Soura.
Over the last two years, over 30 doctors and paramedics, including an administrator, have tested positive for H1N1 at the tertiary care facility as they were not being protected in absence of clear vaccination policy and protective gear.
“The hospital has not started any vaccination process for employees even as four deaths have already taken place at the Institute this month,” said a doctor working in the emergency section of the hospital.
He said the doctors in emergency ward are most vulnerable because they are first respondents when H1N1 patients comes in. “Many of our colleagues had tested positive for the H1N1 virus after they came in close contact with the patients,” the doctor said.
The risk of H1N1 infection among hospital employees is high even though the hospital authorities claim to have taken a slew of measures to protect the medical staff.
Medical Superintendent SKIMS Soura, Dr Amin Tabish, said the institute has limited number of vaccines. “We have many protective gears for doctors and paramedics. We also have made the vaccine available for them,” he said.
Another administrator, who is a public health expert, told Kashmir Reader, that a fresh supply would be received as soon as a vaccine for the latest virus stream was prepared.
“There are hundreds of products in the market. We can’t recommend them unless we assess their cost-effectiveness and efficacy, which can change with change in strain,” he said. “People should not take vaccines without assessing its feasibility. Though the demand for vaccine has increased after panic among people but going for vaccination without efficacy test will increase the risk.”
Dr Tabish said that the hospital had enough Tamiflu tablets which may be used instead of vaccines. “There are many treatment plans if people haven’t been vaccinated. In absence of vaccine it is recommended to give Tamiflu (tablets) in small doses,” he said.
He said that required facilities were in place and N95 masks have been provided to the staff whuile vaccines and Tamiflu tablets are expected to come soon. He suggested that all high-risk patients, such as elderly, those suffering from chronic illnesses and patients with compromised immunes, to take the preventive vaccine annually to cut morbidity and mortality risk.
“People who are healthy should take precautionary measures and practice a proper cough and sneezing etiquette. They don’t need to panic as it’s a self-limiting disease,” he said.