BENGALURU: It's official. Bengaluru saw five deaths due to H1N1 this year.After reports of four H1N1 deaths in Bengaluru's Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, the state Health Department has finally agreed to add the cases to the official death toll. Dr Shivaraj Sajjanshetty, joint director, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, Department of Health and Family Welfare, said, "We will add five deaths to our official daily H1N1 reports on Friday. Four that occurred in August-October in Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases and one in March in BBMP limits."
Asked why it took the Health Department so long to notice the deaths, Shetty said the government-run hospital did not inform the state. The protocol is that after any H1N1 case is brought to the government's notice, it must send health officers to the patient's house, check the family members and neighbours for flu-like symptoms and educate them what needs to be done in the event of getting flu-like symptoms.
"The hospital director says that they sent the data but our district medical officer says they did not receive it. Henceforth, we have asked them to send it to us directly," he said. In 2009, when Bengaluru was in the middle of an H1N1 epidemic, the institute had recorded 403 positive H1N1 cases and 17 deaths. Even though it acts as a nodal centre for such diseases, it is surprising that there was a communication gap between the Health Department and the hospital.
On Thursday, health secretary Jawaid Akhtar called for a meeting of all Health Department wings, including BBMP officials and the hospital director. Dr C Nagaraj, institute director told The New Indian Express, "Among the deaths we saw at our hospital, the first occurred on August 27, the second was on October 1, the third was on October 6 and the fourth was on October 7. We had conveyed the same to Bengaluru Urban District Health office. I don't know why the Health Department did not consider the cases."