Swine flu outbreak: Govt denies medicine shortage, Delhi caps test rates at Rs 4,500

New Delhi: With swine flu cases mounting in the country, the union health ministry on Wednesday said it was "monitoring" the situation and stressed that there was "no shortage of drugs".

Though the union health ministry did not Wednesday release the latest figures of the cases and deaths due to the virus, as per Feb 15 statistics a total of 585 people have succumbed to swine flu in the country.

As the H1N1 cases are going up in the national capital, the state authorities held a high-level meeting with the heads of the designated hospitals and labs and directed them to bring down the amount of tests from Rs.9,000 to Rs.4,500.

Union health secretary B.P. Sharma also held a meeting with senior officers and a video conference with the affected states to review the situation.

"The health ministry has been closely monitoring the situation arising due to cases and deaths caused by H1N1 in some states and there is no shortage of drugs or any other logistics," Sharma said.

He said it after holding a meeting with Director General Health Services (DGHS) Jagdish Prasad, Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) G.N. Singh and representatives of leading government hospitals like Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdurjung and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS).

The health secretary reviewed the number of reported cases and deaths in various states affected by H1N1 and the preparedness of central government hospitals and AIIMS.

 Swine flu outbreak: Govt denies medicine shortage, Delhi caps test rates at Rs 4,500

Relatives of suspected swine flu victim, Kulwinder Singh (50) wheel his body to an ambulance at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar. AFP

Jagdish Prasad and the additional health secretary Arun Panda visited RML hospital Tuesday and apprised the committee of the level of preparedness.

The Medical Superintendents of the hospitals also informed that they have adequate medicines and other logistics, required to deal with the situation and there is no need for concern on that score.

It was informed that a new H1N1 OPD ward had stared functioning at the RML hospital.

A statement issued after the meeting said that the health secretary was in constant touch with the states.

"The situation in terms of availability of drugs, testing kits, diagnostic labs, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks etc, is being continuously reviewed through video conferencing and telephonic means.

"The states have not projected any need in this regard. All necessary and requested help is being provided to the states to augment their capacity."

"In case of need, labs under Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) have been identified across the country to provide additional testing facilities," it said, adding that Delhi has started a new testing facility at AIIMS.

A 24x7 monitoring cell is in operation at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

"An expert group comprising eminent doctors has also issued an advisory stating that the vaccine is not recommended for the general public at this juncture," it said.

The statements said teams of experts from the health ministry have visited states of Telangana, Gujarat and Rajasthan to extend technical support.A

In Madhya Pradesh, 81 people have died and 352 were found positive of swine flu.

The situation was more or less the same in other states, with Rajasthan recording 183 deaths and 3,302 positive cases till Wednesday --Himachal Pradesh two deaths and West Bengal recorded two deaths and 31 positive cases of swine flu till date.

In the national capital, 102 cases were found positive Wednesday, taking the number to 1,781. Six deaths have been recorded in 2015 due to the disease.

The Delhi Director of Health Service said to increase the supply of Tamiflu, an anti- swine flu tablets, it will give licenses to 40 chemist shops from Feb 19 onwards.

Already 100 chemist shops in Delhi have the license of selling the Tamiflu tablets.

"The selected chemist stores are mostly near the 11-12 authorised hospitals that are witnessing comparatively high number of patients with swine flu symptoms," a senior official from the Delhi Directorate of Health Services told IANS.

There are presently four chemist associations in Delhi, with 100 chemist shop owners having the license of selling the Tamiflu tablets to the patients.

IANS

Updated Date: Feb 19, 2015 13:09:20 IST