Heal Hub Coimbatore

H1N1 scare: Health Department forms teams

ACTION to be taken against sale of drugs without prescriptions

H1N1, a virus that first surfaced in India in 2009-2010, has set off alarm bells among health officials all over the State following its recent outbreak.

There is particular concern among officials here as Coimbatore comes only next to Chennai in terms of the intensity of the outbreak. Since January, the city has recorded more than 110 cases of H1N1 with six fatalities in addition to a resident of Kerala dying in the city.

Capitalising on the fears of the public, many unscrupulous elements are trying to make a quick buck by charging exorbitant sums of money for testing for H1N1 or offering miracle cures. Following this, the Health Department has launched a campaign to not only crack down on these elements but also to create awareness among the public.

S. Somasundaram, Deputy Director of Health Services, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not recommend any vaccine for H1N1 as it has become a seasonal flu in many parts of the world.

Most of the vaccines have an effectiveness rate of 75 per cent. Any vaccine for H1N1, he says, is effective only against specific strains of this flu. They do not offer much protection against mutated strains.

The Health Department is also distributing Nilavembu Kashayam, a Siddha concoction that has to be taken continuously for four days to improve immunity levels of the body. It is being distributed in medical camps conducted in areas with a large number of fever cases. Further, members of the public can get this concoction free of cost at all the 47 primary health centres and nine Government hospitals in the district during the outpatient hours.

With the objective of cracking down on profiteering from the H1N1 scare, the Health Department has formed teams comprising the Deputy Director of Public Health, Joint Director, Medical and Rural Health Services and the Assistant Director of Drugs Control Department along with other officials.

The team inspected several pharmacies to crack down on sales of H1N1 drugs without prescription and against quacks who offered to treat this flu. Further, health officials urged the public not to panic as the H1N1 cases had stabilised in the city and were likely to decline in the weeks to come.

Further, he says private laboratories must not charge above Rs. 3,750 per test, the rate fixed by the Tamil Nadu Government. He warned of action against those charging in excess. The testing for H1N1 can be performed only after being prescribed by a doctor and in laboratories with the adequate bio-safety measure and accreditation by the State Government. Coimbatore has only two private microbiological laboratories with this accreditation. Testing was also performed at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, which has set up an exclusive ward for H1N1 patients.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 7:11:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/h1n1-scare-health-department-forms-teams/article7014345.ece

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