Mumbai: The state government has embarked upon a five-point strategy of survey, diagnosis, treatment, vaccination and public awareness, to prevent the occurrence of H1N1. This information was shared by the health officials, medical experts and social workers from different government and civic hospitals, in an internal meeting held at Mantralaya, last week.
“We are likely to implement a comprehensive programme to create mass awareness on H1N1, by using social media platforms since it is popular among youth.
We will also organise workshops and awareness campaigns in schools, colleges and during religious festivals,” said Eknath Shinde, the state health minister. The government, in fact, issued a directive to health officials of the various department which includes municipal corporations and Zilla Parishad asking them to create mass awareness of H1N1.
“Directives have been issued to all the departments for initiating a comprehensive action plan to undertake mass awareness campaign from the month of February. Information should be disseminated regarding gravity of this disease, the symptoms and preventive measures to ensure it does not spread,” said Shinde.
According to the state surveillance department’s statistics, 18 people have died since January, while 330 people have tested positive for the disease till February 17. Moreover, 3.50 lakh patients were examined, of which 4,000 patients were given Tamiflu tablets and 10 patients have been kept on the ventilator in different hospitals across the state.
Dr Pradeep Awate, the state surveillance officer said, the cold wave conditions over north and central India have made it favourable for the virus to spread. According to several studies, the H1N1 virus spreads faster in colder weather conditions because they harden its surface, helping it survive for longer periods.
Once the virus settles in the nasal passageways of humans, it adapts to the climate and attacks when the body’s immunity falls. “Most of the deaths have been reported in Nagpur, Pune and Nashik and other such areas, which the weather conditions have been colder than the coastal districts such as Mumbai or Konkan”, said Dr Awate.
Awate said, health officials have planned a large-scale vaccination programme against H1N1, to protect vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women, patients with hypertension, health care workers and senior citizens. “More than 1.25 lakh vaccines will be administered in April and May,” he said.