Azad Accuses States of Not Doing Enough to Check H1N1 Spread

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has lashed out state governments for “forgetting their duty” and not doing enough to overcome swine flu, alleging that the Centre is stretching itself to the maximum to check the disease.

“We (Centre) can go to a point, don’t expect us to go beyond a point,” he said addressing state health ministers at a review meeting of the National Rural Health Mission.

“This is the maximum limit we could stretch ourselves. Beyond this, the state governments should shoulder their responsibility which they haven’t done,” he said.

He contended that it is the Centre which is doing everything such as contact tracing, procuring medicines, looking for vaccines and training doctors, but the states have forgotten their duty.

While the Central officers are working so hard, “I would expect state level officer to at least sit till 10 pm and give some report and do something. It is because of our intervention at the national level that we have succeeded so far.”

“There is a limit for ministry of health to do this contact tracing and treating. I would request all the ministries and secretaries to be active and identify the hospitals,” Azad said.

Immediately after his speech, Gujarat Health Minister J N Vyas commented that as a federal minister he should not have made the remarks against state governments.

Reacting to this, Azad said that he was not singling out any state and some states had indeed done good work.

The minister said that he had earlier written to all state governments asking them to identify hospitals and train doctors for swine flu but there had been no response following which he asked the Cabinet Secretary to get some additional secretaries and officials from other ministries to go to the state capitals.

“When they went to the states, I again called up all the chief ministers,” he said.

“It was the duty of the state governments to train the doctors at the district level,” he said, adding the Centre could have just done its duty by sending a letter.

Azad also asked the state governments to use the regional media to reach out to people. “Press briefings should be held regularly to keep the people informed”.

He alleged that he had been trying to contact some state health ministers but they had not returned his calls.

“Each state should have an institutionalised mechanism to deal with it (swine flu) and shoulder their responsibility effectively,” he said.

Accusing some state governments of not taking the situation seriously, he said certain states have not made available the required number of beds or doctors.

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