Macedonia Alarmed Over Swine Flu Deaths

March 11, 2011
Following a record number of deaths from swine flu, the health authorities have announced an investigation into the treatment of affected patients.

Children in Skopje with protective masksSix patients, including one pregnant woman, have died in the last five days from the flu, adding to the 15 deaths so far this season.

The latest data from the health ministry indicates that some 25.000 people have been infected so far and the ministry expects this number to climb.

“We are gathering data, including exact dates, so that we know where, for how many days, and with what therapy patients have been treated” doctor Jovanka Kostovska,  the head of the national commission for pandemic flu explained.

She said that all state medical facilities had sufficient supplies of Tamiflu and that all doctors in the primary health sector had been given exact instructions on how to treat potentially infected patients.

Health Minister Bujar Osmani confirmed that the ministry will investigate all deaths, but cautioned against drawing premature conclusions about responsibility for the deaths.
“Maybe one of the reasons [for the deaths] is that the people underestimated the flu this year.
Few people have followed the advice of the Ministry to see  doctor immediately they recognise flu symptoms and to undergo vaccination if they are in a high risk group” Osmani told local media.

He said that the the virus had evolved this year into a more deadly form, resulting in a quicker progression of the disease and  more serious pneumonia.
Although relatives of some recently deceased patients have complained that it took too long for the doctors to diagnose the desease and admit patients to the Skopje clinic for infectious deseases, Osmani Insists that the “health system responded accordingly, as it did last year”.

The national commission for candemic flu continues to advise caution and vaccination, especially for  children, pregnant women and the chronically sick.