SRINAGAR: Medical officials at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura, said on Saturday that the H1N1 (Influenza A) flu may escalate in Kashmir next year.
Director of the institute, Dr AG Ahangar, said in a hurriedly-called press conference today that there may be a rise in flu deaths next year due to the upward trend of H1N1 virus seen during January and February months.
“The H1N1 flu infection has just started in Kashmir and there is a possibility of resurgence next year. However, people shouldn’t panic because it is better to take necessary precautions and follow control measures,” he said.
Ahangar said that the SKIMS administration and doctors were ready to face the challenge as the institute had adequate facilities to cope with the disease.
“We have all necessary infrastructure and medicines available to control the infection. But we need co-operation from the peripheral hospitals, which refer every flu patient to SKIMS. They can manage most of the patients at the district level and should not refer them to us, which burdens the institute,” he said.
Dr Ahangar informed that the latest victim of the H1N1 infection was a female patient from Soura, who died in the hospital on November 16. The hospital had admitted 24 H1N1 positive patients this season, of which 12 were sent home while 5 were still under treatment at the hospital, he said.
“Unfortunately, seven H1N1 positive patients have expired at the institute due to co-morbidities like malignancies, leukemia, respiratory illnesses and immune compromised states,” he said.
According to Dr Ahangar, SKIMS had enough testing and treatment equipment and the authorities may buy more if there was increase in the number of patients.
Kashmir Reader has reported the ill-preparedness of Kashmir’s hospitals, especially SKIMS, in dealing with the H1N1 virus. There is also lack of vaccine for H1N1 in the market as well as in healthcare institutions.
Dr Ahangar said that SKIMS had already administered 250 vials of vaccine to doctors and other staff members. “We are also in the process of purchasing 2500 vials for future use, if there is a surge in H1N1 flu cases,” he said.
The SKIMS director also denied allegations that a female patient, who was working at the Government Women Polytechnic, Bemina, died due to negligence of doctors.
“There is no negligence on part of SKIMS,” Dr Ahangar asserted. “We received her in a critical condition as she had spent 4 days at home without treatment. She was brought here when her condition had deteriorated. She died within hours after she was brought to us.”
He said SKIMS had dedicated an Isolation Ward for treating H1N1 patients. “We take all precautions to restrict the spread of this infection. Beside the isolation ward, the adjacent Medical Observation Ward,
Surgical Intensive Care and all other relevant departments at SKIMS take care of these patients who suffer from other co-morbidities that make them immune compromised,” Dr Ahangar said.