Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The entire State is in a state of panic as the dreaded swine flu has taken the toll of eight lives in Orissa so far. As rapidly as it has hit the State, it has also exposed how superficial is the State administration in facing this epidemic.
Swine flu has not attacked Orissa for the first time. It had taken its toll last year too. But the present phase has shown that the State Government has failed to learn from its past experiences.
The Hospitals are not equipped to tackle the debacle. No preventive vaccine is available to the general public. Doctors are not sure of the success of the vaccines in circulation. The health care sector in its entirety is in chaotic confusion. The Regional Medical Research Council (RMRC), Bhubaneswar is the only one referral point to test the swab samples. But no clinic or hospital in the entire State except a few Bhubaneswar based institutes is equipped or trained to collect and rush the swabs to the RMRC sans any delay and in medically correct condition.
The situation is so precarious that Orissa High Court has judicially asked the State Drug Controller to ensure that the general public is made aware of the details of the flu including infection, prevention and cure though the official machinery and to prevent forthwith the growing black market in vaccines, medicines and masks. The State Government must profusely and repeatedly notify the general public as to where they are available with the details of their stock and price, the court has directed.
Government of Orissa, under the incumbent Chief Minister, is known for repeated contravention / sloughing over of the orders of the court(s) for which time and again its officers including Secretaries of different departments have been warranted into the court rooms and reprimanded. Time will say how the above direction of the High court is obeyed.
But even if the Government carries out the above direction this time, it is hard to believe that the real problem would end. Absence of swab testing labs in the State and lack of environment of involvement of the medical community in serving the patients would continue to play the havoc.
The State’s priority is fixed on safeguarding the interest of foreign firms like the POSCO and of similar industries of non-Oriya origin that are eager to exploit Orissa like the Vedanta and the Tatas. Therefore, real well-being of the indigenous people of Orissa has lost its importance as a result of which, despite last year’s experience, the administration is not ready to face the pernicious epidemic and people are left to mercy of their fate.
There is nothing to worry, says the Chief Minister. But swine flu has shown how superficial is his assertion.