“Overwhelmed” by H1N1

An interesting article that Jim received through Medscape Medical News:

November 12, 2009 — The number of patients seeking treatment at the start of the Northern Hemisphere flu season has “overwhelmed” clinics and hospitals in Ukraine, Mongolia, and Afghanistan as the H1N1 pandemic surges across Europe and Asia, said Dr. Nikki Shindo, a medical officer in the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Influenza Programme, during a press conference today.

The proportion of severe cases of H1N1 influenza in the Ukraine is smaller than that found in the Southern Hemisphere during its flu season, noted Dr. Shindo. “It seems like a lot of patients being admitted have rather milder symptoms. And mostly, the admitted people are young adults or middle-aged adults. We haven’t heard of pediatric patients overwhelming the pediatric wards.

“From Mongolia, we are hearing that pregnant women are overrepresented [among the hospitalized],” she added.

WHO is stepping up efforts to supply poor, hard-hit countries such as Ukraine and Mongolia with antiviral drugs, but its current stockpile of 10 million courses of treatment (and an unspecified number of pediatric capsules) can’t match demand, Dr. Shindo said. She estimated that developing countries need enough courses to treat 4% of their population. “We are working with partners and other countries that have enough of a supply to meet the global need,” she said.

WHO also has taken this kind of collaborative approach with H1N1 vaccine, which is in short supply as well. Earlier this week, WHO announced that GlaxoSmithKline will donate 50 million doses of its H1N1 vaccine, and WHO will distribute them to developing nations.

This article certainly doesn’t point to any need for a panic here.

Please continue to pray for wisdom among governmental decision-makers as well as medical professionals.

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