A Union health ministry team was in Dehradun recently to survey different health facilities so that a state-of-the-art virology laboratory can be set up here. One operational, this will be the first such facility in Uttarakhand.
The proposed lab will bring Uttarakhand in the Influenza Surveillance Laboratory Network (ISLN) of the country. Currently, 21 such laboratories are running in the country and the states which don’t have virology labs are dependent on other states to test blood samples of patients to confirm viruses like H1N1.
For instance, blood samples from government hospitals in Uttarakhand are sent to Delhi-based Central Non-Communicable Diseases Laboratory, from where results are forwarded after three days. This sometimes takes a toll on a patient’s health as he/she cannot be put on a complete course of swine flu medication without confirmation of the virus.
Officials said that the need to have such a lab in the Himalayan state arose after a sudden spike in the number of unseasonal swine flu cases. In the past three months, four H1N1 deaths, including the demise of a BJP MLA, have been reported from Chamoli and Dehradun. As many as 50 samples of suspected patients have been sent to the Delhi lab during this period.
Confirming the development, Uttarakhand director general of health, Dr Archana Shrivastava said, “The health ministry team will decide whether the lab will be opened in Coronation hospital or in Doon Medical College and Hospital. They have surveyed the facilities in these two hospitals and sound pretty optimistic. Very soon Uttarakhand will have its own swine flu testing facility.”