Swine Flu seems to have held us hostage, despite the fact that other, traditional illnesses claim more lives annually.
The problem with our handling of swine flu is our national haphazardness. We need not just fire fighting, but a good strategy. It is clear our health establishment is reacting with panic. Pune was the earliest to get all the attention, and now Lucknow is threatening to upstage it. There just isn’t a strategy. But how can you have a strategy without data first?
The most important thing is to track it, and then, map it. Such maps should be available in the public realm, so that several others who understand these systems can read and understand them directly.
The second most important thing is to come up with a local code of preparedness for every city. Why should our CMOs be left to handle an entirely new disease by themselves? Even where they have been able to do a commendable job, they are exceptions, not the norm. This can easily feed into all kinds of disease mapping.
The third vital piece of action is to learn from the past-particularly from an environmental health crisis like Japanese Encyphilitis. It was still rare till the early 1990s, just like Swine Flu is now. All it would have taken to control it would have been handling the vector that caused it-a mosquito. Nothing was done and it is now an annual occurance in North India. We cannot afford to allow Swine Flu to become mainstream. The least our government can do is to protect our health in a planned way.