Why are private doctors not enabled to treat Swine Flu ?

While no one is sure how real a pandemic the H1N1 (swine flu) virus is, one thing is for sure. The government of India is completely unprepared to deal with what some experts are saying is about to happen. A dependency on government run hospitals, where sanitation conditions are such that infections abound is dangerous. They are just not equipped to deal with a pandemic.
The best thing the government can do right now is to release the drug Tamiflu to private doctors, and set up mobile testing centres all over the city. I know Tamilflu is a brand protected by patent, but a pandemic is as good a time as any to break that code and manufacture a generic drug based on the formulation. Indian drug companies have done it for aids and have sold the drug at affordable prices to Asia and africa and are saving llves. Yes they are being sued, and there are legal issues there – but surely human life is more important than.
There are so many effective NGO’s across the breadth of Urban India that have the resources and the will to act. Large industrial cororations who themselves will be seriously hit if there really is a Pandemic, will be able to look after their employees and provide effective distribution outlets.
I remember when the then Minister of Health made headlines on smoking not being allowed in films and he was splashed all over the media constantly – well, time for the health minister to kick in on a real issue now.
And if this is a Pandemic (and no one is sure that it is), then surely all non essential places where there are crowds in close contact (like cinemas and schools) should be temporarily shut down ?

9 thoughts on “Why are private doctors not enabled to treat Swine Flu ?

  1. Hello Shekhar,
    I agree that it is essential for countries like India, Colombia, etc to continue not aligning themselves to the usual policies that protect laboratories instead of global health. Hats off.
    In terms of the swine flu, an organized policy will surely go a long way (closing down public places, publicity issued by health institutions on what people should expect and do to handle a case of flu). Mexico slowed down what seemed to be a starting pandemic by using communication: slogans, television spot publicity, posters… Here is where institutions and mass communication can make a huge difference.
    France had hundreds of deaths in 2003, because the government and media never got together to inform people what to do against the high temperatures and derived dehydration of elderly people and children. Hand in hand they might have saved lives.
    It is now in the government institutions and media’s hands throughout the world to keep informing. An educated population is the most powerful weapon against the spread of any danger.

  2. I’m scared- I admit.
    Andheri/ Churchgate/ VT at peak hour?! What will you stop? What will you check?
    Sorry for the Bby- centric thinking.
    With Cipla/ Natco/ Hetero making the drug, the patents have long been set aside.
    But if this is widely available AND if the virus develops a resistance then we have NOTHING. Which is what is stopping the govt.

  3. Strange isn’t it, that not many private hospitals are coming forward now that the government wants them to involve. Worried about revenue models.
    For anyone interested, Gelsemium, Bryonia and Oscillococcinum are the homeopathic medicines being recommended by leading homeopaths to treat the flu symptoms. Apparently had proved to be highly successful in a similar epidemic in the last century. The details of the doses and frequency can be checked with practitioners.

  4. Q: Why are private practitioners not equipped to treat patients afflicted with the H1N1 virus?
    A: Probably because treatment requires the patient to be quarantined for a few days and private practitioners may not always be able to ensure that.
    As for private hospitals, it might be useful to recall here that Needa Sheikh, the 14 year old from Pune who was among the first to die from the disease in the city, was being treated at a private hospital and the child’s family has now decided to sue the medical facility for causing death due to negligence. Apparently, the doctors there did not even suspect Swine Flu, let alone get her tested for it, until it was too late.
    Q: Why is TamiFlu not available over-the-counter at retail outlets?
    A: According to the Health Minister that could lead to a large number of people taking the tablets without being infected with the H1N1 virus and only as a precautionary measure. If some such people do, at a later stage, become infected, TamiFlu may prove ineffective for treating them and the H1N1 virus might actually develop into a strain that is completely resistant to the drug.
    The technical details of such a process can, of course, be better described by a qualified physician.

  5. Finally someone is asking the right question. It is shame! Europe prepared for swine flu..people can get vaccination without any problem..and in US…what did Health System? Who is responsible for make people feel miserable and hopeless? It is big shame for big Country ..

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