Potholes in the Sky is another dad-blog I regularly read. And, the recent post from Amit on “Swine Flu in Pune” captures a parent’s point of view on India’s growing concern to contain the spread of the H1N1 pandemic :
Pune has the highest number of postive cases in the country. Till very recently, only Naidu Hospital was authorized to conduct tests, then Aundh Chest Hospital was added to the list. Now 15 more locations have been authorized to collect samples. It took one death (the only one in the country) to wake up the administration.
However, from what is being said, the administration is still not conducting tests unless a link to the infected people is established. Sad. When my daughter was suffering from high fever, body ache, cold and sore throat, we called up Naidu Hospital to ask if we should take her there. They didn’t feel it necessary to conduct any tests on her, even though 15+ students of her school had already been detected as positive cases. The poor girl who lost her life, too, was apparently not in contact with any of the infected people. We never learn…
I cannot offer much help to Amit or any one in his predicament, as the situation is not very different in any other major city of India. The government, for no conceivable reason, has decided to permit only a handful of government-run hospitals to run diagnostic testing and quarantine facilities, with a few more designated as pre-screening centres, while bulk of the private clinics and hospitals are left powerless. And, officials from the Ministry of Health, and other politicians of repute, are all over the new channels reassuring the public that there is no need to panic, as the reported incidents in India are far below those in US or UK.
In the meanwhile, parents have begun coping with it, as best as they can. Some are not permitting their children to attend birthday parties or visit crowded theatres and malls, others are skipping a visit to the clinic or hospital for something mild, and still others are resorting to panic-buying of masks to keep the infection at bay.
A colleague remarked, earlier today, that he asked his domestic help to stay at home for a couple of weeks, since she showed signs of most of the symptoms being reported in the media! You have to be an Indian to realize the significance of that statement, considering how indispensable domestic help is to any household!!!
Is this sentiment justified or is it paranoia? As a father of two, I would also be distressed if it were happening in my neighbourhood. But for most of us in this country of more than a billion, it is merely a “news item” to talk about… Until, that is, the H1N1 symptoms start to appear in our near and dear ones!
As my good friend Amit said, we never learn…