Sunday, August 09, 2009

Containing the H1N1

H1N1 is spreading. The response is still uncoordinated, slow, confused, messy and lacking a clear direction. What could a coordinated, quick, focused response look like? Here is a first look at a better coordinated system.

What if you could help yourself?

If you’ve got flu, you should be able to register yourself on phone, through an sms or on the internet. A quick set of questions should be able to assess if you need to be tested for H1N1. If you do, then the information system should schedule you for test on one of the 15 mobile collection centers closest to your home. You should be intimated during your conversation the expected time when the unit will visit you and conduct the test. At the same time the mobile unit would be sent an SMS of your location. The blackberry on the mobile unit would indicate the google map of your location and allow them to update the information system as soon as the sample is collected.

The collection team would do a collection round for three hours and then shift to another vehicle as the first one goes to drop off the samples. The collection vans would be fumigated every day.

Can the patients get the right medical attention at home in time?

The diagnostic centre would log the results onto the website minutes after the results. You get a telephone call, sms or email from a dedicated team responding to the web-site updates. The google map gets automatically updated to track positive locations.

The closest of the 15 mobile rapid action teams of doctors gets an sms alert and a map of the address their blackberry. The new patients would now be under medical advice at home within 3 hours of diagnosis. A quarantine team would also visit and advise the family, neighbors set up waste disposal mechanisms, provide masks and advise about hygiene. The family physicians would be contacted and advised on a daily check and reporting. Patients needing hospital attention would be shifted immediately.

Can the spread be contained through information?

All airlines, railways, buses would log passenger lists to a health check site. All patients are checked in these databases and co-travelers in the city are visited by the containment team for a quick check-up and advise.

All the classes in schools of children in the families of the travelers who were exposed to a patient would undergo a check every morning after a class assembly. School assembly to be discontinued immediately. The school medical team to register a case of flu on the phone, through the mobile or on the net. A special team would visit the school for containment, hygiene and closure advisory.

All the co-workers of a patient would undergo a check-up and advice within a day. Periodic follow-up would be scheduled as needed.

What if there was a health monitoring team?

Instead of the central government, state government, local government and the dozens of associated agencies making different statements, there would be a single agency that would report on the health, the advisories and the action plans. Different agencies would have to agree to the directives of this single agency and implement them.

Containing H1N1

Undoubtedly there is more than this needed. This is just a glimpse at an alternate way of dealing with the crisis. Do build the ways to contain this virus. We need more coordinated, focused and simple action and we are running out of time. Coordinate your efforts on Pune H1N1 Wiki.

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  • Great idea- I hope this happens soon.

    By Anonymous Brinda, at 6:58 AM  

  • Great post Anupam...I really hope someone in administration is reading this...

    By Anonymous B Shantanu, at 9:12 AM  

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    Sorry for offtopic

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:32 AM  

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