Influenza-A

It was in April 2009 that Influenza A (H1N1) virus was detected in humans and since then nearly 30,000 people were infected and 140 were killed. This virus has spread to 74 countries. Otherwise called the Swine Flu, this was declared a pandemic by WHO in June 2009. This has the notoriety of being the first flu pandemic in 40 years.

WHO has announced that countries where this flu is wide-spread need not submit individual laboratory-confirmed cases but those with the first cases of this flu should report to WHO and should also submit weekly aggregates. This decision is based on the fact that developing countries will undergo avoidable strain if they are expected to submit individually confirmed cases. Further, the heaps of such reports will make things worse delaying purposeful action in combating this dreadful flu. As WHO has pointed out, symptoms of this flu are mild in many cases and hence may go undetected.

Countries should be vigilant and report to WHO sudden changes in the flu's patterns, kinds of people affected, how the flu is transmitted, etc. Since Nations have learned bitter lessons after the bird flu and SARS, they consider sharing of data with WHO and other nations very important.

We all should be happy that this pandemic is yet to take its roots in African countries. But this should not make us complacent because if it takes roots in those countries, where health conditions of the inhabitants are compromised to a great extent, it will be a very huge challenge. These countries do not have the facilities for timely detection and reporting and hence infection may affect thousands of people. Hence WHO and other major countries should gear up and keep themselves equipped with reasonably good supply of medicines, vaccines, nutritions, etc. so that this virus can be fought head-on to avoid major casualties.

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