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Home / Pune News / With 600 H1N1 deaths since Jan, govt should promote influenza vaccine, says WHO

With 600 H1N1 deaths since Jan, govt should promote influenza vaccine, says WHO

World Health Organization’s (WHO) India representative Dr Henk Bekedam appreciates Swachh Bharat initiative undertaken by the government

pune Updated: Sep 02, 2017 11:03 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
World Health Organization India representative Dr Henk Bekedam.
World Health Organization India representative Dr Henk Bekedam.(HT PHOTO)

PUNE: At a time when 600 people have succumbed to H1N1 virus in the country this year, World Health Organization’s (WHO) India representative Dr Henk Bekedam has urged the Indian government to promote influenza vaccination.

“It has been observed that people do not take seasonal influenza vaccinations in India even as H1N1 has been seen to kill patients, especially pregnant women. To address these concerns, the government must make a stronger policy and promote influenza vaccinations,” Dr. Bekedam said on Friday. He was delivering his inaugural address at the 12th Joint National Conference of Indian Society for Malaria and other Communicable Diseases (ISMOCD) and Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE) at the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune.

The three-day conference began on Friday on the theme, ‘Innovate, Empower and Share- Combat Communicable Diseases’.

Dr Bekedam said that with climate change, the challenge of dengue and chikungunya will continue to persist as mosquitoes breed easily at higher temperatures. He stressed that to prevent communicable diseases, cleanliness and hygiene are very important, and on this note, appreciated the Swachh Bharat initiative undertaken by the government.

The Dutch national and medical doctor called for better surveillance and monitoring of diseases with early detection and treatment to prevent rapid spread of any disease. Countries need to be prepared for emerging and re-emerging diseases like Ebola and Zika. Many countries face financial challenges while building stronger systems for monitoring diseases; however, diseases must be reported in time and infections controlled in places like hospitals, he added.

Pune has so far seen 95 H1N1 deaths and 540 positive cases. Suspected cases of dengue (1,226) and chikungunya (254) were also on the rise, he said.

Air Marshal Pawan Kapoor, Director General Medical Services (Air Force) was the chief guest at the event. Among those present were Dr AC Dhariwal, president, Indian Society for Malaria and other Communicable Diseases (ISMOCD); Dr Anil Kumar, president, Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE) and Air Marshal CK Ranjan, director, Commandant, AFMC.

ISMOCD is the apex body at the national level which aims at advancing knowledge regarding the cause, prevalence, epidemiology, prevention and treatment of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases and other communicable diseases in the country. It provides expert advice to the government on integrating all scientific and field investigations and research towards finding practical solutions to control vector-borne diseases in the country. IAE was established to work for promotion and strengthening of epidemiological services in close coordination with other public health associations in India.

Speaking about combating communicable diseases, Air Marshal Pawan Kapoor said it would be good if general physicians also mentioned preventive measures on their prescriptions while treating patients. This would educate people about ways to prevent diseases and would bring about behavioural changes, he said.

“We need to shift our focus from disease management to healthcare management. There must be efforts to eliminate certain diseases the way we have achieved in case of small pox or polio,” Kapoor said.

Issues to be discussed at the conference include emerging diseases, sustainable ecofriendly vector control methods, impact of climate change on vectors, vaccine preventable diseases and newer diagnostic techniques and disease control strategies. Ideas emerging from these deliberations are likely to be incorporated into the programmatic components of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), an umbrella programme for prevention and control of vector-borne diseases under the National Health Mission.

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