Friday, August 28, 2009


I was at the dialog with the minister of health this afternoon, representing the private medical practitioners' association. It was a very informative session, both for what we discussed ( the seen) and also for what was not discussed ( what I observed ).
Of course we discussed the current situation. I must say that I occupied quite a lot of microphone time. The minister brief us on how he saw the current situation. He kept saying that the death rates were going up and that there were more and more cases of A H1N1 reported. This was echoed by the deputy Director-General of Health. But when asked, the deputy DG said that he had no statistics of the infection rates. His gut feeling was that infections seemed to have plateaued and slowed down. I informed the minister that my data and observation, tells me that for the last week, the ministry of Health have cease to report the daily infection rates ( something which we advised the minister when we had a private dinner with him on 13th Aug. ). The death rates ( I quoted ) has slowed down from 64 on the 13th Aug meeting with the minister, to 71 till today. In fact the 71st victim died on 20th Aug. and the death was adjudicated by the mortality review committee ( something which we asked the minister to set up on the 13th Aug dinner so that all deaths could be properly "labelled " to make sure that they were all A H1N1 caused ). Basically, about less than one death a day. Well, I argued that if the death rate has slowed and the infection rates have slowed, why are we still in a panic state and calling it a pandemic? In fact, whole wide, the same is occurring. In Australia, UK, China, Hong Kong and USA the infection rates and death rates are plateauing and falling.
What was observed, silently was that in the room ( although this was a session of the private doctors, with the minister and ministry ), there were managers of selected pharmas there. This always makes one wonder whether there are agents out there ( ? selling anti-virals ) hoping to keep the panic on, so that they can sell more drugs. It is true that there are still people who are sick out there, but in my personal opinion, not anywhere near panic proportions. It is important to note that most of the infections now are mild ( assymptomatic carriers, or those with mild flu-like-illness ), 95% of whom will surely recover. Should we keep harping in the press and keep the "panic " on?
I must say that when I saw the generic drug company manager there, it dawn on me that there are agents of profit outthere trying to profit from this "pandemic ". I suppose, in business, in every crisis, there is an opportunity. It does not really matter to some, that some others would suffer, if this "pandemic situation" last too long.
To be complete, we also discussed a whole host of issues, including price of anti-virals, not to bash private doctors in the press, strategies and flow charts to follow in the event of, use of MOH websites for information, data collection, and also a clinical presentation.
All in all, I thought that what was not said came through louder for me than what was discussed. Maybe I am just being too suspicious?

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