Lab technicians test swine flu samples in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, Sept.12: Swine flu deaths continue to haunt the state with the disease claiming the highest ever toll of 48 lives so far. A whopping 372 persons have been affected by the disease this season.
Most of the deaths have been reported from private hospitals and healthcare institutions. The health and family welfare department, which had claimed to have issued orders to private healthcare facilities to keep isolation wards and medicines ready to deal with the disease, has now exposed itself to public ire for "failing to monitor the condition".
The health and family welfare department has recorded 16 deaths since September 1, of which five are from SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack. All the other deaths have been reported from various private hospitals of Bhubaneswar.
"We did issue orders to all the healthcare units in the city -private or government - asking them to keep the isolation wards ready with essential medicines. Many of the major hospitals also complied with the orders," said health department special secretary K.C. Dash.
People, however, blame the health department for not being able to put a monitoring mechanism in place.
"Private healthcare units are collecting the samples and sending them to the government for examination. As long as the reports are not coming, the patients are being kept in general wards, in turn exposing others to the virus," said Jagannath Mohatny, a patient's attendant at a private hospital here.
"Patients who have symptoms similar to those of swine flu should be kept in isolation wards, even when their reports are yet to confirm the disease, to ensure that the swine flu is not spread to other persons," said Mohanty, a resident of Jagamara.
A senior health department official admitted on condition of anonymity that the state was witnessing the worst ever outbreak of swine flu. "In the government hospitals, we have put up enough measures to treat the victims. But still, people choose to go to private hospitals," said the official.
"We are well prepared to treat the disease. We have put up enough medicines and kept the isolation wards ready at the two hospitals and three medical college-cum-hospitals of the state. However, people are reluctant to come to us. They are opting for private facilities which is why another reason why a number of deaths are being reported from the private hospitals," he said.