Union Health Ministry issues advisory to States on H1N1
States asked to report status of preparedness by 10th of this month
To review the preparedness of states to address and manage H1N1 influenza, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Shri J P Nadda held a high level meeting of senior officers from the Health Ministry, ICMR, and representatives from states such as Goa, Kerala, Telangana, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh recently. Following the direction of th Union Health Minister, advisories have been issued to states.
The states are advised to ensure that they have the required and adequate quantities of stock of drug Oseltamivir, Viral Diagnostic Kits, Viral Transport Media, Personal Protective Equipment and N-95 masks, at different levels in the health care system.’ State governments have also been requested to ensure that sufficient isolation facilities are available and functional, well-equipped to manage critical respiratory emergencies.
The Ministry has also asked for a status report from the states on their preparedness in terms of PPE, N95 masks, testing kits, medicines, vaccines etc., by 10th of this month.
The Central Ministry has asked the states to remain vigilant and take precautionary measures to prevent morbidity/mortality due to this Virus. The advisory notes that- ‘While most of Influenza A H1N1 cases will be mild, persons with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, cancer and other immuno-compromised conditions, adults more than 65 years of age, children under 5 years of age and pregnant women are at higher risk for acquiring severe illness. Mortality due to Influenza A H1N1 among the said high risk groups can be prevented by early diagnosis and prompt treatment.’ It further requests the state governments to ensure adequate epidemiological surveillance to immediately detect clustering of influenza like illnesses along with requisite laboratory preparedness to test the clinical samples. Training and re-training workshops can be held for doctors to reiterate guidelines on patient categorization, clinical treatment and ventilatory management protocols. These guidelines/protocols are available on the website of the Ministry (http://mohfw.gov.in/index4.php?lang=1&level=0&linkid=372&lid=3066).
According to the advisory, the impact of seasonal influenza activity can be mitigated by simple public health measures such as frequent washing of hands, respiratory etiquettes, avoiding crowded places and maintaining distance of an arm length from those affected from flu like symptoms. While appropriate IEC campaigns to create awareness among public has been recommended, in addition to ensuring adoption of precautionary measures by healthcare workers deployed in influenza patient care set-up, states have been asked to give emphasis for their timely vaccination against Influenza A H1N1 so as to reduce their vulnerability against the virus.
Chief Secretaries of the States/UTS have been requested to review level the preparedness measures in the State at their level and issue necessary guidance to address shortfalls, if any.
All assistance has been assured by the Union Government to the efforts of the states in the matter.
Influenza A H1N1 cases are currently being reported from some States including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Telangana.