Lax response delays disease confirmationThe failure of the government team to bring the blood samples from swine flu affected villages in Jajarkot district has delayed the test and medical intervention
A medical team along with Health Minister Khaga Raj Adhikari had flown to Jajarkot on Sunday to take stock of the situation. Although the team was asked by the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) to bring throat swabs and blood sample from the patients, the team only brought throat swab samples, which has delayed the diagnosis.
“Among the samples, three tested positive for swine flu. Due to lack of blood samples, we have not been able to conduct the real diagnosis,” said Dr Geeta Shakya, director of NPHL.
Seven blood samples sent to Kathmandu for test on Wednesday is expected to arrive on Thursday. Only laboratory test, doctors said, will determine if other people in Jajarkot are also suffering from swine flu.
According to Dr Shakya, for people who are not suffering from influenza, blood test would confirm the disease they have contracted.
“Had the blood samples arrived the very day, we could have easily diagnosed the actual disease in the area. It would have been easy for the medical team to administer the treatment accordingly,” Dr Shakya said.
It had taken 15 days to diagnose the 2009 cholera outbreak in Jajarkot. Dr Shakya said the latest case in Jajarkot clearly shows that the government did not learnt any lessons from the previous incident.
The cholera outbreak had killed 340 people and the government was criticised for lax response. This time, too, health officials said, the government has failed to provide adequate response in the Jajarkot.
“In any epidemic, major focus has to be in diagnosing the disease. It should be followed by medical intervention along with the analysis and improvements of their hygiene habits,” said Dr Laxmi Raj Pathak, former director-general of Department of Health Services. “But time and again, the government has failed to abide by the basic principle during any disease outbreak.”
On Tuesday, NPHL had confirmed swine flu virus in three of the 12 samples collected from patients in Jajarkot. It is yet to be confirmed whether all the people in Jajarkot who are down with flu-like illness are suffering from swine flu.
The disease was initially reported from Paink, Nayabada, Sakla and Archhani VDCs. Recently, the people from Rami Danda, Rokayagaun, Laha, Kortang and Majkot are also complaining of similar symptoms.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Health and Population has asked a team of doctors at National Academy of Medical Sciences to remain on stand-by in case of emergency in Jajarkot. Health Secretary Shanta Bahadur Shrestha said they have also asked Nepaljung Medical College to make necessary arrangements to treat the patients.
Schools closed for two weeks
Schools in Jajarkot will remain closed for two weeks after swine flu outbreak in various VDCs of the district.
Chief District Officer Jagat Bahadur Basnet, who is also the chairman of the District Disaster Preparedness Committee, said they hope the H1N1 virus outspread in the district would be contained in two weeks. The committee has also decided to recall all the health workers who are on leave.
The number of deaths possibly caused by swine flu in Jajarkot has reached 17, after a 58-year-old man from Talegaun VDC succumbed to the illness on Wednesday.
A health worker has also been referred to the District Hospital for treatment after suffering from flu-like illness.
Dr Rajendra Panta, chief of Mid-Western Regional Health Directorate, said another health worker has been deployed to take his place.
Dr Panta added that doctors, health workers and medicines have been mobilised in five of the disease-hit VDCs.