India now better prepared to handle H1N1 outbreak: Azad

He said by 2010,India had grown from mere two labs equipped with the testing facility to 45.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: March 6, 2013 1:10 am

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the current swine flu situation in the country was “totally different” from the 2009 pandemic of the H1N1 virus,when there was a shortage of testing facilities and no indigenous vaccines.

Speaking at the annual convocation ceremony of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) at RML hospital,Azad said,“The situation today is totally different from the pandemic in 2009. Then,there were inadequate labs for testing (of the virus),and we were dependent on imported reagents for the tests. There was no domestic vaccine.”

He said by 2010,India had grown from mere two labs equipped with the testing facility to 45. “We also started producing our own vaccine under Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). ICMR was also made responsible for producing domestic reagents,and,within a year,we achieved that as well. We now have adequate preparation with regard to surveillance,testing and treatment of H1N1,” Azad said.

Commending RML hospital for leading the swine flu management,Azad said,“In August 2010,the WHO declared that H1N1 had moved into post-pandemic phase,but also observed that there would be sporadic outbreaks in some countries,including India. This is probably what we are witnessing now.” Azad said.

He said it was a matter of “great satisfaction” that in 2010,WHO had showcased India and New Zealand as models for other countries for vigilance,quick detection and treatment of the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.

RML hospital medical superintendent and director PGIMER also announced that the redevelopment plan of the hospital,which includes a new 289-bed emergency block,which is likely to start from April.

39 new H1N1 cases

39 new patients tested positive for H1N1 in Delhi on Tuesday. 1,137 patients have tested positive for the virus since January 1,and 12 people have succumbed to the virus in the period.

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