Lessons for future, a month after Nipah

It has been a month since Kerala’s public health system received a jolt in the form of the Nipah outbreak in Kozhikode. Health experts have now called for putting in place stringent surveillance measures and long-term mechanisms to counter such eventualities in future.

Some of the victims of the infection were caregivers and visitors. “Crowding of hospitals is a cause for concern and we should look at decongesting tertiary-level healthcare institutions such as government medical college hospitals,” says K.P. Aravindan, public health activist and former Professor, Government Medical College, Kozhikode.

“It is important to put a referral system in place and control visitors. Patients should approach medical colleges only for tertiary care and after their appointment with the doctor there is confirmed. Primary health centre, taluk hospital, district hospital, and the medical college hospital should be interlinked. There should be a standard operating procedure for treating fever cases,” he told The Hindu on Sunday.

There is a severe shortage of staff in government hospitals. The number of caregivers can be reduced by appointing more nurses, nursing assistants, and lab assistants. Infection control mechanisms should be immediately put in place in hospitals by involving clinical experts to reduce hospital-acquired infection, Dr. Aravindan said.

Meanwhile, N. Sulphi, secretary, Indian Medical Association, Kerala chapter, said the government needed to set up a stronger surveillance system to identify new diseases and the genetic changes in viruses, among other things. “Foundation stone had been laid for a virology institute in Thiruvananthapuram. The work should be expedited,” he said.

A lot of misinformation was circulated, which impacted the efforts to contain the Nipah outbreak. Cyber rules would have to be made stronger to prevent this situation. An effective public health Act, capable of dealing with such situations, has to be enacted at the earliest. It should have reference to modern illnesses and communicable diseases, he added. Dr. Sulphi also called for a long-term plan for proper healthcare. “Kerala is a rapidly urbanising State. In 10-15 years, it will become a big city. Issues such as drainage, sanitation, drinking water supply and waste disposal should be given priority while constructing houses,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 8:03:26 AM |

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