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H1N1: Hospitals, officials on alert mode

Pandemic: State has sought more Tamiflu tablets to meet any exigency

DESPITE the sudden surge of people thronging the State’s designated hospitals for H1N1 influenza screening, health department officials say they are prepared with enough stock of Tamiflu/ Oseltamir tablets.

In fact, the Department of Health and Family Welfare has already requested for an additional 5000 Tamiflu tablets on Thursday, which the regional directorate for the State will dispatch by Friday morning.

Dr C Anbhazhagan, Regional Director of Health, Government of India, told Deccan Herald that he had received 17,000 Tamiflu tablets from the Centre out of which he had already handed over 5,000 tablets to the State Health Department, initially. In addition to this, 200 Tamiflu syrups – the entire supply available with the regional director – have been given to the State, he said. The syrup is especially administered to children.

When asked whether the stock would be enough, Dr Anbhazhagan said, “The stock will not be enough. When people hit the panic mode, they will have whatever tablet will cure them.”

Activation sought
As for the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), he informed that, currently, he had a stock of 300, out of which 50 pieces were given to the State on Wednesday evening. “The State has been prepared all along but it needs to activate this preparedness now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Victoria Hospital is confident that it can handle the situation if more patients were tested positive. The hospital had received 500 tablets a month ago, but requested for more, as all the tablets were utilised.

“We received fresh stock of 200 tablets about five days back. But we haven’t prescribed any. The Tamiflu tablet cannot be given indiscriminately as it will lead to people developing resistance to the drug,” said Dr Gangadhar, in-charge of the Hospital’s H1N1 influenza ward. In fact, the hospital received 20 people on Thursday for H1N1 influenza screening. However, no one was admitted.

Tablets remain unused
Lakeside Hospital received 70 tablets on July 15, but hasn’t used even one. “We cannot give the tablet to suspected patients at random. The tablets are only to be given to a person tested positive of H1N1 influenza. Also none of the doctors have taken the tablets as we have been following proper precautions,” said Dr Raviraj, the residential medical officer, Lakeside Hospital. For the N-95 mask, the hospital, at present, has eight in stock and four in use.

However, no one seems to have a clue about how much the Tamiflu tablets cost, as no price has been mentioned on the package.  But according to Ministry of Health from New Delhi, 10 tablets cost Rs. 250.

(Published in Deccan Herald in 2009; along with Poornima Nataraj)

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