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In epidemic zone,schools shut,so are private hospital doors

The weekend stretches ahead for Anna,a Class IX student in Pune. She has been forbidden by her parents to go to the mall or even watch a movie...

Written by Vinod Mathew | Pune |
August 7, 2009 4:16:21 am

The weekend stretches ahead for Anna,a Class IX student in Pune. She has been forbidden by her parents to go to the mall or even watch a movie,even as her friends face similar restrictions.

Life in Pune is getting to be a dull affair for children. While most schools have declared an extended vacation till Monday,others in Camp area,where swine-flue casualty Reeda Shaikh lived and went to school,will have been told by the cantonment board to remain shut for another week,till August 17.

That is the fate of the healthy children. Ironically,though,those who actually have flu-like symptoms such as a cough and cold are still finding it difficult to get doctors to examine and treat them.

When health authorities — state and central — held private establishments,including Ruby Hall Clinic and Jehangir Hospital accountable for failing to diagnose and treat Reeda correctly,other such healthcare facilities virtually stopped attending to patients with cough and cold. That is,until,the government machinery once again cracked the whip and warned the community against such a stance.

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The truce is still an uneasy one. The two public establishments — Naidu and Aundh hospitals —assigned to test and then treat those who test positive for the H1N1 virus in Pune,between them,have 70. At no point of time has the number of patients testing positive for H1N1 threatened to breach this mark. Yet,the state Health Department has announced that it will add another 200 beds exclusively for swine flu treatment in the next 15 days.

And the private healthcare sector is already showing its resentment. On Wednesday,they refused to treat anyone with cough and cold — resulting in a huge crowd turning up at the Naidu Hospital . Thursday was no better.

“It’s really unfortunate,the manner in which the private healthcare segment responded. Yesterday I came across a patient who was admitted for a kidney transplant in a reputed hospital who was asked to go to Naidu and get his symptoms of common cold examined. I hope reason will prevail soon,” city Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Zagade tolf The Indian Express.

However,according to representative bodies like the Indian Medical Association (IMA),the need of the hour may be for the two sides to share resources and work together as the initial target of containing the virus seems to have failed,as it has begun piercing clusters,like schools. The better way out may be for the government to lay down the guidelines and play watchdog as to how the private sector is playing its role,they say.

Given the prevailing situation with nine more people,including three from Reeda’s St Anne’s School testing positive for the swine flu virus on Thursday — the government may soon have to bring down some of the existing barriers and allow the private healthcare sector access to both medicine and treatment facilities for this illness.

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First published on: 07-08-2009 at 04:16:21 am

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