In response to a request from the State, a team of public health experts deputed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will be in Kerala during the week to conduct an epidemiological study into the re-emergence of the A(H1N1) virus in the State during the monsoon season and its behaviour.
The Mohfw has also sanctioned the State's request for additional stock of six lakh Oseltamivir tablets and 20,000 bottles of paediatric syrup. Kerala's request for 31,000 doses of ‘Sanafu,' the A(H1N1) vaccine imported by the Centre for use among public health personnel, has also been approved.
“We have requested one lakh doses of Sanafu vaccine, which is recommended as safe for use among pregnant women and children. We pointed out that we had an unusually high number of H1N1 deaths among pregnant women this season. The Ministry told us that a high-level committee is looking into this and a decision will be taken soon,” Health Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), Manoj Joshi, told The Hindu.
In his letter, Mr. Joshi had mentioned that nine out of 16 deaths reported in Kerala so far were pregnant and post-natal women. All were treated only for simple flu.
Mr. Joshi said that the request for one lakh imported vaccines for pregnant women had been placed, since the next two or three months would be crucial and cases could go up as monsoon intensifies. “We will have to wait till the expert committee gives a final decision whether Sanafu can be released for use among general public,” Mr. Joshi said. The first indigenous vaccine against H1N1 was released in India last week. “I have spoken to the company representatives and have made arrangements to make Vaxiflu-S available through hospitals, strictly on the basis of prescriptions. The logistics should work out in a day or two and hospitals can purchase the vaccines directly from the company,” Mr. Joshi said.
18 new cases
On Monday, 18 persons were confirmed as H1N1 positive in the State. These include six cases from Thiruvananthapuram, three each from Kollam and Malappuram, two from Kottayam and one case each from Pathanamthitta, Thrissur and Kasaragod.