ISLAMABAD-Experts have urged the National Health Institute (NIH) to play its role in disseminating awareness about prevention and cure of influenza disease which has become a threat for a number of citizens especially children and old age people with the advent of the winter season. Talking to APP, General Physician, Dr Mubashir said the department concerned must introduce a proper public health policy to control the spread of seasonal diseases especially influenza.

“The awareness campaigns regarding flu vaccination were necessary and the department concerned must initiate efforts to educate citizens about consequences of influenza virus on their health, preventive measure they can adopt and of course the remedies and proper medications”, he said. He said, a lot of patients were suffering from serious health consequences due to spread of influenza virus, therefore, its vaccination is a must for the children, adults and even elderly people to prevent them from further health deterioration. He said a lot of people believe in a myth that influenza vaccination will create a health problem and it is not right thing to take vaccination for controlling flu. “Flu vaccine is made from an activated form of influenza virus and virus component cannot cause any element of disease. Even, pregnant women can take this vaccination and it is totally safe”, he observed.  The school kids were mostly suffering from influenza these days and their parents should take it seriously and ensure their proper treatment before sending them to school to avoid spread of this viral infection which can really catch the other kids having less immunity, he said.

More than 50 percent disease can be controlled with the help of vaccination however rest of it can be prevented by wearing warm clothes, avoiding beverages and taking soups and fresh juices, he advised. Dr Mubashir informed that in Pakistan there were three local manufacturing companies of influenza vaccination named as Novartis Pharma, Glaxomithkline and Sanofi Aventis which are providing vaccination between Rs 600 to Rs 800, however the private hospitals were providing imported influenza vaccination costing Rs 15000 which is not affordable for a common man.

He said influenza virus was seasonal and its outbreak in Pakistan is mostly by the H1N1 virus. We need to adopt effective measures to prevent from its higher risks and complication which sometimes leads to death. 

Dr Rizwan Uppal said we can protect ourselves from this disease by adopting small methodologies like keeping the hand washing all the time, not to touch anybody having this virus, and wash hands properly in case of shaking hand with the affected person, disposing off the tissues papers properly after sneezing coughing and cleaning our hands especially in gathering.

 Severe flu virus can be suspected most of the time in the current weather and people should rush to the specialists instead of an ordinary physician, Influenza complication can really hurt and creating more serious situation for the patient if not cured. Dr Uppal said awareness from NIH is required at large to deal with this virus which is not forthcoming so far.  There is lack of awareness among the citizens about role of immunization in Pakistan.  Influenza is a communicable disease and the government must enforce proper public health policy in such kind of situation where spread of communicable diseases especially flu are really threat to the citizens, he said. He said influenza vaccination is essential for the citizens especially children and elderly people and those having asthma and allergies with advent of winter season every year as the DNA of the virus changes every year.  Dr Afzaal Qureshi, who is a General Physician, recommended that proper research on influenza virus should be conducted so that vaccination can be introduced accordingly.  Private hospitals are minting money from the citizens by charging Rs 10,000 up to Rs 15,000 for influenza vaccination terming it “imported vaccine” which is not affordable for a common man.