NEW DELHI — The H1N1 virus, or swine flu, has ravaged the world since 2008, killing millions of people in its wake. While strides have been made to eradicate this virus, especially in the western hemisphere, swine flu continues to ravage the nation of India.
H1N1 is an acute infection that originated in pigs and is spread by the consumption of pork byproducts. One can also catch it by being exposed to coughing and sneezing of an infected person.
The worst part of H1N1 is that it has the exact same symptoms as influenza. In the Western World, it has become no more deadly that the common flu. However, in India, it has claimed more than 900 lives over the course of the last five years.
Across India, 16,000 people have been infected with the H1N1 virus among the various provinces. BBC News reported recently that several notable politicians including the Indian Health Minister JP Nadda have cautioned the people of India to remain calm in the face of the epidemic.
The Indian Ministry of Health in response has called in experts to study the disease; however, it still has not been able to find the source of the seasonal outbreaks. The outbreaks of swine flu in India have mainly occurred in the winter when it is colder.
These outbreaks have occurred regularly since 2009 when the pandemic started. In an article from DW News, it asked the question if India was prepared. In the same article, it reported that all H1N1 vaccines are imported into the country.
The average cost of these vaccinations is 14 euros, which is about $15 per vaccination. Of note, the minimum wage in India is 28 cents an hour, making it difficult for those living in poverty to afford the medication.
Even those who can afford the medication and the vaccinations are concerned that there is going to be a shortage this year. A recent article by the Times of India reported that there have been vaccine shortages in private hospitals and pharmacies.
In response to these shortages, the Indian Ministry of Health has ordered an additional 60,000 vaccines and 10,000 medical masks to help end the shortage. As the number of cases rises in India, the Ministry of Health continues to try and find the source of the outbreaks.
As a precaution, public assembly has been banned across the country with the exception of weddings and funerals. Weddings and funerals have been allowed under the condition that the participants wear protective clothing and gear to prevent infection.
Whether or not the Indian Health Ministry was prepared for the pandemic, it has taken charge of the situation and is doing everything in its power to prevent any more deaths this year.
– Robert Cross