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Swine flu : Mishandling a dangerous virus

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  • Swine flu : Mishandling a dangerous virus

    Out of 124 people who tested positive to the H1N1 virus, only one died of the disease, according to the minister of Health, Maya Hanoomanjee. But make no mistake, this virus is highly contagious and is dangerous and very virulent. It kills in a matter of days.

    A peak of this pandemic, last year, left our hospitals overcrowded and our schools had to close for weeks. There were also some deaths and a rush for the Tamiflu, the anti- viral drug. When the virus reappeared in February this year, it was kept as a closely guarded secret by the then minister for Health, Rajesh Jeetah.

    Hiding facts and figures on chikungunya, dengue fever and swine flu seems to be a common feature in Mauritius, an up-market tourist destination that does it level best not to scare visitors away.

    The black-out on this year’s outbreak of swine flu has nevertheless been a terrible mistake and a case of mismanagement of an oncoming sanitary crisis. But the ministry of Health is not the only one to be blamed over what has happened in recent days.

    “Had we been warned that swine flu was again present in Mauritius, we would have taken our precautions. We are wondering if the life of Mr White could have been saved had his doctors thought about swine flu and started the antiviral treatment when antibiotics failed the first time,” said a private sector doctor.

    This statement is a confession that private practitioners have made a lethal mistake by ignoring the World Health Organization’s web-site warning doctors concerning the H1N1 pandemic.

    It reads thus: “Today, since the H1N1 pandemic virus is now the dominant influenza virus circulating worldwide, most cases of influenza-like illnesses are likely pandemic influenza. Typical symptoms to watch for include fever, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat and a runny nose.”

    WHO advises health care providers to treat people with influenza-like illness based on their symptoms and the progress of their illness, and not to wait for laboratory confirmation of pandemic influenza. The pandemic H1N1 virus has already spread worldwide. Warnings posted on the 14th January this year and still available at the following address:

    Mauritius being what it is, neither private practitioners nor most of the ministry’s doctors were willing to take the blame on their shoulders.

    “The ministry of Health should have warned us that there were cases of swine flu in the country and the warning you are talking about should have been the object of a press communiqué by the ministry.

    The ministry of Health is the only one to be blamed for what has happened,” says a private practitioner.

    He might not be totally mistaken. The president of the Union of Private Practitioners, Dr Mohammad Isshaq Jowahir, is not wrong when he says that the case has been handled lightly by the ministry of Health.

    In fact, the University of Mauritius and some private companies have so far handled the case with much more responsibility than the ministry of Health.

    The university today has notices on most of its doors asking students and staff members presenting swine flu like symptoms to stay at home. They are also advised not to overcrowd corridors and not to be more than five people in the elevators.

    This is not panic, but merely the protocol of the WHO addressed to all those having swine flu-like symptoms. The ministry of Health should have come up with similar warnings at the beginning of the winter season. (See inset)


  • #2
    Re: Swine flu : Mishandling a dangerous virus

    Bérenger accuses Hanoomanjee of playing the policy of secret on influenza A (H1N1)

    The leader of Mauritian militant Movement (MMM), Paul Bérenger, judge whom the minister of Health « manages very badly » situation in comparison with influenza A H1N1, maintaining that it is necessary to report « the policy of secret » of Maya Hanoomanjee.
    « If I do not ask for the resignation of the minister, it is not to add to difficulties of instant », notably declared the leader of opposition, during the press conference of the mauve party, in this July 24th, to the hotel Labourdonnais, to Port-Louis.
    « She said that since February 10th, the Ministry of Health identified a first case of influenza A (H1N1) this year. But it is only on July 10th, five months later, when a first decease further to this virus is brought back, that she announced that influenza A H1N1 is still present in Maurice », supports Paul Bérenger. And to add: « And the minister even apologized. She would have had to make it at least to the fellows of this person. » He underlines several "foul-ups" made by the minister Hanoomanjee, with contradictory statements.
    It is also of the opinion that the vaccination drive against influenza A (H1N1) started "too late " and that she was "badly prepared". « The centres of health are overwhelmed », it brings to light. « With the departure of the campaign of this year, vaccination was opened to all population. He should have owed a list of priority persons had » there continues Paul Bérenger.
    Besides, the leader of the MMM moves forward that the last decision of the Ministry of Health, which certifies be a directive of the worldwide Organization of health (WHO), is "aberrant". It refers by the way that the Ministry of Health will perform no more systematic tests on the persons suspected of having flu A (H1N1), but really assure a surveillance.
    According to the Dr Ahad Abdool, Main Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, the WHO recommends that once influenza A (H1N1) spread in the population, it is not necessary any more to perform tests routine. Besides influenza A (H1N1), the leader of mallows also entrusted his deep anxiety as for the provisioning of energy in Maurice.
    It addresses « a strict warning to CEB and to authorities ». « It is a long time since I draw the bell of alarm at the fact that if they do not pay attention, the request of energy will exceed offer over the years, in Maurice », he tells.
    « The government continues running behind plan CT Power and incinerator of Gamma Covanta instead of searching the optimum use of the bagasse and allowing CEB to play its role entirely. I have the impression that the State makes express to let augment danger and deteriorate situation so that in last minute, he can make a 'pressure ' for the installation of these plans. Plans which are opposite to vision Maurice Lasting Island », he adds.
    Besides, it criticizes the purchase of motors in heavy oil by CEB, in expense of billion rupees, because, he adds, « once again, it is the consumers who will pay price » .Par elsewhere, about the affair implicating the deputy Cehl Meea and a person under 18, Paul Bérenger says that it is in concerned authorities to investigate and to assure that the truth is established.
    However, he points out that he follows this affair nearly.


    • #3
      Re: Swine flu : Mishandling a dangerous virus

      As per the figures in Mauritius in the year 2009, H1N1 outbreak reported 100000 cases and numerous deaths were also witnessed. Once the flu was widespread, the Ministry of Health in Mauritius took drastic steps like establishment of flu-clinics and the closure of schools to counter the same. However, preventative measures were never undertaken on a large scale.

      It seems like the same scenario would be repeated in the year 2010 in Mauritius. Reports claim that in February 2010 the first case of H1N1 was reported, however, the Ministry did not pay much heed to the same. Also, no preventive actions were lined up to contain the further spread of the H1N1 flu. As per the sources, the MOH of Mauritius has about 170 000 doses of vaccines stocked up since April 2010, but had not used the same.

      One is perplexed as to why the Ministry is flip-flopping in the handling of H1N1. Further, one is forced to wonder as to why despite having suffice vaccines; the same are not being used.

      As per the experts, the reasons that can be attributed for the failure of the Ministry to deal with the epidemic can be termed as lack of communication with the public and apt differentiation of the regular flu vis-a-vis H1N1.

      Further, the channels of communications like radio and TV only report the lab confirmed cases, while a major chunk go unrecorded of the H1N1.

      Thus, with the grave situation staring in the face, one is left to ponder, whether the MOH of Mauritius has failed in dealing with the situation or is too late to initiate the vaccination program?