Urgent action needed for fluThe staggering speed of the spread of the new A(H1N1) influenza has stupefied the country, leaving authorities at sixes and sevens in coping with the unprecedented situation. Hospitals registered as main clinics are swamped with anxious flu patients and are belatedly scurrying around for the right diagnostic equipment and treatment.
Due to sudden changes in how to deal with the burgeoning health crisis, some patients have been turned away from clinics that were originally furnished with the appropriate medical kits. More and more schools are closing, or are delaying the start of the fall term because of the growing number of confirmed cases among students. Other schools remain fretful about a potential outbreak.
The fault lies with the government because of its inopportune and lax approach to combating influenza when the virus first made inroads into the country. Despite warnings that we might have an epidemic on our hands, authorities have been engrossed in day-to-day counteraction and have failed to prepare long-term contingency plans. Moreover, the government neglected to secure sufficient vaccines and anti-viral drugs in readiness for an outbreak and until recently was confident of its ability to handle the situation with existing reserves.
Only after the tally of confirmed cases hit three digits did the authorities hurriedly dig out reserves at foreign pharmaceutical companies. But supplies from overseas remain uncertain as stocks there have long been reserved for earlier buyers from other countries.
The government should get its act together to ease public anxiety. It must do its best to secure more vaccines and anti-viral drugs while realigning the treatment system to be more efficient.
It should increase the number of medical centers and drugstores specializing in the new influenza treatment and muster support for these facilities to provide appropriate care. These hospitals are short of the necessary medical specialists and facilities to treat influenza patients. Additionally, authorities should make sure treatment, quarantine and health insurance guidelines are consistent to lessen any possible confusion.
The government cannot fight the virus alone. It needs the full cooperation of the medical field and the public. Everyone must remember acting in self-interest in times when we need unity can place the public’s health as well as the country at great risk.