Tuesday, 11 August, 2009

Flu Fanatics

Fee fi fo fum, the flu has come, the flu has come.

Classes shut, masks on

lazy,faceless existance dawned!

We hardly see faces anymore, only eyes peeking out from different coloured masks. The masks have equalized masses, on the streets atleast. Everyone, irrespective of clothing, looks the same, from a bus driver to college students to bankers. The streets of Pune have become quite interesting really. A sort of bubble of faceless existence. Never has eye contact and expression been so integral to interpret non-verbal communication. When you see the guy at the bus-stand, the girl sitting in class, or the car driver at the cross-roads when you are about to cross, you only see the slits for eyes, what are they thinking, are they friendly or hostile or indifferent? Is he going to let me cross or run me down?. Late last night while returning home I saw 4 boys kidding around on bikes , taking chances and riding risky, and all 4 had medical masks on, it just seemed a strange sight for some reason.

The last one week has been a mad frenzy where nothing has been left to imagine. The swine flu epidemic seems to be mutating into the flu news epidemic. The worst part of it is the derogatory way in which the media has maligned reputations of all those associated with Reeda Sheikh's death that occurred in Pune. While the grief of the bereaved family is understandable, the pointing of fingers at private practitioners, always a soft target, for treating an epidemic of a new kind is not. We as inhabitants of this city see the monumental task that the medical authorities are coping with, for every person tested positive doctors painstakingly track all the people they have been in contact with and start treatment. In Reeda Sheikh's case that was 80 odd people, in some it is more. Now that the flu has mutated into a community virus where contact cannot be traced the doctor's job has become all the more complicated.

Doctors should be shown respect and consideration and not be threatened and driven into a corner. Sensational journalism will put the safety of countless of individuals at stake. No doctor will feel safe to attend to a patient, fearing backlash. The obvious course will be to shunt the patient to the nearest government hospital to deal with the increasing number of swine flu cases. At the best of times our government hospitals are over burdened, during a crisis like this, one can only imagine then how inadequately, the sheer increase in the volume of patients will be screened. I am sure some of the positive cases will return to the community provoking a further spread of the epidemic.

According to a recent World Health Organization report there are at least 162,380 cases of swine flu reported worldwide, of the 338 deaths reported in the last week of July 300 were in the Americas, given these static, a developing nation like India has done a fair job in setting up a rough but working infrastructure and medical services to contain the outbreak. I wish the media would put some sanity into the thinking. Communication based on rational guidelines and advisory should be sent to every hospital. The medical fraternity needs to be strengthened by positive journalism to give rise to a logical thought process which may lead to effective control of this serious problem and not hounded after every death.

P.S. ( With healthcare being in the news so much these days, Im wondering what happened to the G.P or general practitioner? Everybody seems to be going to hospitals and clinics and health-care has become a very machinized, factory process. I remember in Calcutta there was a very strong tradition of family doctors, general practitioners who treated the same families for generations. They not only know your case history but your fathers and grandfathers as well. The nuggets of information prove very useful in diagnose. Also since these doctors would visit families in the same area they formed an important part of the social fabric, respecting patients confidentiality, but still a part of gossip, births, marriages, illness and deaths. G.P's were quite a cozy, reassuring concept.)

1 comment:

Avanish said...

Hey, I totally agree with you...people from Pune are been looked at with jaundiced eyes..

When I returned to Bangalore after my exams from Pune, everyone in the class had this fear of contacting the flu in case I have been affected by it!! and its gettin worser by the day...