Monday, June 29, 2009

Basilan protocol for Influenza A(H1N1) sought

BASILAN, Philippines - While many hope it will not come, some believe it is just a matter of time that Influenza A(H1N1) will be coming to Basilan province. But how prepared are the BasileƱos in handling cases?

This was the main concern of some 50 participants during a recent forum on Influenza A(H1N1) organized by the Basilan Communicators Network (BASCOMNET) and the Department of Health-Center for Health and Development, Zamboanga Peninsula (DOH-CHDZP).

The participants, mostly member-agencies of the BASCOMNET have sought for a provincial protocol in managing cases of IA(H1N1) in Basilan. A protocol that will ensure full coordination among concerned agencies of government and medical team that will respond to a suspected case.

"This is what we are waiting from the Provincial Government to organize the soonest possible time," said DepEd Nurse Alex Anquillano. "At this time there is no existing task force or protocol in the province."

Anquillano disclosed that most of the schools were already given orientation about the virus, especially in Isabela City, through the initiative of the City Health Office, and that they are already starting to provide the necessary equipment and mechanisms in every school, unfortunately, Anquillano lamented the lack of funds and nurses.

The DOH National Center for Disease Prevention and Control has released its preparedness plan containing technical guidelines on various occasions, settings, and incidence. Since he is school-based, Anquillano only explained the preparedness plan for schools.

Nobody from the Provincial Health Office attended the forum.

Dr. Rufino Gaudiel of the Basilan General Hospital announced that throat swabbing is readily available in all hospitals in Isabela City in case symptoms of the virus would appear on individuals who had history of travel to areas known to be infected with the virus.

He advised the public, however, not to submit for swab test unless suspected cases are evident in the patient. This will also discourage panic, referring to some individuals who started to stock anti-flu medications. He strongly advise the public not to take Tamiflu if not inflicted with the IA(H1N1) virus.

Dr. Gaudiel gave a brief orientation about the virus and some updates from DOH on a national scene, and explained the preventive measures for individuals to remember. "Proper hand washing with soap and water is still our best defense against contracting viruses and diseases," he stressed.

He added that local hospitals can only do the testing. If a case is confirmed, the patient will be immediately vacated to Zamboanga City Medical Center where treatment will be administered for free. Representatives from the PhilHEALTH also confirmed the government’s assistance package to patients that will be inflicted with Influenza A(H1N1) virus.

Veterinary Doctor Erwin Jalao explained the difference between the current Influenza A(H1N1) and the swine flu. While both have the same H and N, it is at the core of the virus where lays the difference. Thus, the swine flu, i.e. for pigs, has an existing vaccine, for the Novel Influenza A (H1N1) in humans is still being developed.

The participants of the forum agreed to appeal for the local government’s immediate response to establish protocol in managing cases of Influenza A(H1N1) in Basilan. The BASCOMNET headed by Myra Alih expressed gratitude to Vice Governor Al-Rasheed Sakkalahul and Provincial Board Member Munap Pacio, chairman of the Sanguniang Panlalawigan's Committee on Health, for supporting the forum. (Rene Carbayas)

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