As of 7 January 2010
Spread of Swine Flu in Pakistan:
As of 26th May 2009, 46 countries have officially reported 12954 cases of swine Influenza (H1N1) infection with 92 deaths. In Pakistan Swine flu?ôs first case was detected in one patient at the national institute of health Islamabad, on August 11, 2009, and on Nov 27, 2009, three new cases of Swine Flu detected in Peshawar.
Measures taken by Ministry of Health Pakistan:
In view of the above situation, the following preventive measures were adopted by Ministry of Health:
- Instructions were issued to all Provincial Health Departments including FATA, FANA, AJK and all missions abroad to raise level of alertness.
- Heads of all Educational Institution within the domain of Federal & Provincial administration be aware of this new situation and may announce that children with flu like symptoms may not come to school.
- Heads of all Hospitals with the domain of Federal & Provincial administration to issue following instructions for doctors in OPDs.
Wear masks while attending patients.
Take careful history of the patients with flu like symptoms.
A press release with careful wording not creating an alarm may also be considered.
- All passengers coming from Mexico & North America with Flu like symptoms be screened at airports.
- Obtain the medical clearance certificate for Swine Flu from intending visitors to Pakistan who have recently been to Mexico, U.S.A, Netherland (Holland), Switzerland, Hong Kong and Denmark.
- Crews of all arriving aircrafts are instructed to be vigilant & observe passenger for flu like symptoms.
Recommendations of the National Task Force for Communicable Diseases during & after Travelling (Including Hajj):
While taking in to account the recommendations of the Expert Panel convened by the Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (June 27-30, 2009) and the resolution of the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Committee (22nd July 2009); and reviewing the available scientific information about the spread of H1N1 pandemic, the National Task Force for Communicable Diseases during its meeting on August 12, 2009 makes the following recommendations for implementation in Pakistan:
- Pakistan?ôs national action plan for pandemic influenza developed by the National Task Force for Communicable Diseases be implemented vigilantly by all stakeholders.
All Hajjis, Umra visitors, healthcare providers and other members of the Hajj Mission 2009 be administered seasonal influenza vaccine, at least two weeks prior to their departure for KSA.
If available and licensed by the regulatory authorities, the influenza A (H1N1) vaccine be administered to all Hajjis, Umra visitors, and healthcare providers and other members of the Hajj Mission 2009.
An extensive health education campaign be undertaken for Hajjis and Umra visitors to promote non-pharmaceutical measures for prevention and control of Pandemic Influenza.
The medical mission accompanying Hajjis must carry appropriate amounts of antiviral drugs for H1N1 treatment, N-95 Masks and Ambient Temperature Viral Transport Medium.
The Pakistan's Medical Mission must also have adequate number of Rapid Response Teams on board comprising of public health professionals, infection control specialist and laboratory personnel.
On return of Hajjis, an adequate screening arrangements be made for A (H1N1) at ports of entry in order to limit its spread using current measures such as thermal cameras, temporary quarantine facilities etc).
In accordance with the national action plan, 01 national, 04 provincial, 01 AJK and 06 regional (geographical distribution to be based on needs) reference laboratories be established / strengthened by December 2009 to cope with possible increased numbers of cases.
The following high risk groups for severe pandemic influenza postpone their participation in Hajj and Umra for this year:
- Elderly; over the age of 65 years
- People with chronic diseases; serious cardiovascular diseases, asthma, tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases, uncontrolled diabetes
- Children under the age of 12 years
Business Community reaction:
Most of the big organization have taken speedy actions to create awareness amoung the staff and in this attempt organisations have issued memos and distributed brouchers to staff for taking precusionary steps like;
- Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.
- Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth, germs are easily spread this way.
Special precausionary recommandations are made for staff travelling abroad. Organizations are taking all necessary measures to protect employees and ensure to provide safe working conditions.
Since by now not much attention is being given by the government to make awareness at community level by using print or electronic media, there is not much reaction and prepardness at the community level to address this human swine influenza. One of the reasons for the inactive role is the fact that till now a very small number of Swine cases are being reported in Pakistan.