Ranbaxy Science Foundation (RSF), a non-profit organization set-up by Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited (RLL), organized its XXIII Round Table Conference on the “Pandemic Influenza Update” on September 19, 2009 in New Delhi. The programme was moderated by Shobha Broor, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and Prof. T. Jacob John, Formerly Professor and Head, Departments of Clinical Microbiology and Virology, Christian Medical College, Vellore. Jai P. Narain Director, Dept. of Communicable Diseases, WHO-SEARO, New Delhi, delivered the keynote address on the topic “Global Scenario of H1N1 Pandemic Influenza”
This was the first open forum of scientists and public health experts on the pandemic in India. The main objective of this Round Table Conference was to review the progression of the pandemic as it affects the world in general and India in particular, successes and failures, the lessons learnt so far and to redefine our preparedness plan for such pandemics in future. The scientific sessions on various aspects of influenza were followed by a panel discussion. The conclusions drawn out of the day long conference are as follows :
- H1 N1 Swine Flu is highly contagious and has spread very fast to 191 countries starting from America, to Europe, Asia & Africa
No. of confirmed cases & deaths as on 18th Sept, 2009
* Number of confirmed cases in India : 7374
* Number of deaths in India : 225
* Number of confirmed cases globally : 296471
* Number of deaths globally : 3486
H1 N1 will probably continue to spread for some time – the more the number of cases – the faster the rate of spread
- H1N1 is generally not a very serious disease
- Both - the pandemic and seasonal flu strains are currently in circulation
- Signs & symptoms of H1N1 and seasonal flu are very similar and like common seasonal flu most persons with H1 N1 Swine Flu also soon get better without any specific treatment
- Transmission of the virus can not be stopped. Current focus is on reducing the impact of pandemic by diagnosing the cases on the basis of case definition and treatment of severe cases thereby saving lives and contributing to the prevention of further spread
- No need to test each and everybody having flu like symptoms. Only cases with an index of suspicion should be tested. Early treatment is recommended to such cases without waiting for the lab report which takes about 48 hours.
- Persons having underlying co-morbid conditions like diabetes, cancer, liver disease or any other chronic disease including pregnant women and children are at high risk.
- Chemoprophylaxis should be given to the close contacts if necessary
- Screening of cases at the airports is not recommended
- Closure of schools & public places like cinema halls and malls can only delay but cannot stop the spread of H1 N1. Decision to do so is however to be taken by the respective State Govt.
- Need to enroll private laboratories and hospitals to meet the need due to the increasing number of cases
- Vaccine is the most effective tool to control the spread of H1 N1
- Only 21 cases of drug resistance to Tamiflu have been reported globally
- Public health measures taken by individuals and communities such as social distancing, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene etc. are at present the most feasible measures available to reduce or delay the disease caused by pandemic influenza
Ranbaxy Science Foundation, chaired by Dr. Nityanand, is a non profit organization, set up by Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited, which promotes scientific endeavour in the country by encouraging and rewarding excellence in medical and pharmaceutical research and channeling national and international knowledge and expertise. Among the prime activities it undertakes every year are, holding of Scientific Symposia in front line areas of research, inviting Foreign Scientists as visiting Professors and holding of Round Table Conferences on subjects of public health concerns. The Foundation also gives annually four Research Awards in different areas of Biomedical research to scientists for distinguished research besides recognising four young and brilliant upcoming scientists as Ranbaxy Science Scholars every year and awarding scholarships to them. The topics for the earlier Round Table Conferences held so far included Dengue, Tuberculosis, Water Borne Diseases, Malaria, Kalaazar, HIV / AIDS, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis C, Anthrax, Leprosy, Hepatitis B. Polio,Diabetic Retinopathy and Improving Access of Health Care etc.