?Health Minister Jerry Narace has instructed Chief Medical Officer Dr Anton Cumberbatch to conduct an investigation into the clinical processes observed by local private and public health sector doctors who dealt with the four people who died of the A/H1N1 virus. Narace made the disclosure during a news conference at his office in Port-of-Spain yesterday. "The Chief Medical Officer is currently investigating the fatalities and I asked him to report to me in the shortest possible time. And I have also clearly established that we are going to investigate all, and not only the clinically processes, but all other processes," Narace said. The minister also referred to an article published in another local newspaper. That report claimed one of the A/H1N1 victims had visited a private doctor in Penal twice for treatment before succumbing to his illness at the San Fernando General Hospital.
Narace said the Ministry of Health was attempting to verify the newspaper article. "I have already instructed the Chief Medical Officer to conduct thorough investigations into the clinical processes followed by that doctor, our public hospitals, the private clinics where some of those people came from," Narace said. The minister's comments followed concerns that there existed local medical practitioners who were negligent in their detection and treatment of H1N1 victims. In the question and answer session of the news conference, Narace said he would not jump to conclusions regarding negligence from local doctors–both at private and public health institutions–who handled the cases of A/H1N1 victims who died in Trinidad.
"I have no suspicions and I am not prejudging anything," he said. "What I want to make sure is that a proper audit takes place and a report is brought to the Minister. We will at that point determine the appropriate course of action." Four Influenza A/H1N1 deaths have so far been reported in T&T. There were 163 laboratory confirmed H1N1 cases in the country, according to statistics from the Health Ministry. Confirmed victims of H1N1, who succumbed to their illnesses, included Barrackpore resident Vishraj Maharaj, a truck-driver. Advertising agency executive Astra Da Costa died on Thursday of complications of A/H1N1. Maharaj died last Tuesday at the San Fernando General Hospital after twice seeking treatment from a private doctor in Penal.
Da Costa died at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital hours after she was transferred from West Shore Medical where she was warded since September 27
Narace noted that those who died of the A/H1N1 had been admitted to public hospitals "at a late stage in the course of their illness and they all presented respiratory distress." He said, too, that those victims had underlying risk factors, which complicated their cases of H1N1. He said other H1N1 cases treated in T&T "were relatively mild and the persons returned to their normal activities within seven to ten days." Narace said he understood that people in T&T felt anxious and fearful. "We expected it (a second wave) and it is clear that it is here," he said.
?Vaccine due next month:
?He said the Ministry of Health had developed a pandemic plan to tackle H1N1. He also assured that a batch of vaccines to fight the H1N1 virus was scheduled to arrive in T&T next month. "This is a very serious threat and I have said on previous occasions while we do not wish panic or hysteria, there is great cause for concern and vigilance will bring is great rewards," Narace said. "While we maintain that we do not wish for people to panic or engage in hysteria, this is a serious threat and there is cause for grave concern," he said.