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Over 1,500 swine flu deaths in India, says Azad
Published on 4 May. 2010 11:08 PM IST
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As many as 1,501 people have died in India due to swine flu, but the influenza A (H1N1) has now shown signs of abating, the Rajya Sabha was informed Tuesday. Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad said the H1N1 cases have dropped in the past few weeks.
Till May 2, there have been 1,501 laboratory confirmed deaths due to the pandemic, while 30,581 people have been affected with the virus in the country, he said.
India reported its first swine flu death Aug 4, 2009, while the first case was recorded May 16, 2009.
“Government took a series of actions to prevent morbidity and mortality due to pandemic influenza A (H1N1) and to mitigate its impact,” the minister said.
Azad said they took various steps to check the spread of the flu in the country by screening passengers at 22 international airports. “Over one crore passengers were screened,” he added. He said that the laboratory network in the country was strengthened with 45 laboratories carrying out clinical tests.
Also, India procured 40 million capsules of Oseltamivir, an anti-viral drug, of which 21 million were given to states. The retail sale of the drug was later allowed in some selected outlets.
The government proposes to establish an umbrella body to oversee medical education in the country and to prevent scams of the kind that have hit the Medical Council of India (MCI), Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Tuesday.
Once the National Council for Human Resources in Health “comes into being, it will take care of everything”, Azad said while responding to a calling attention motion in the Rajya Sabha on irregularities in the functioning of the MCI in giving approval to medical colleges.
Noting that the government “was required to take the state governments on board” he said the draft bill on creating the council had been circulated to the states and union territories, 13 of whom had responded.
“We are reminding the others and will go ahead once their responses are received,” he said.
Azad said the need for the council was felt after a parliamentary standing committee had shot down key elements of a law that the government wanted to bring in 2005 to tighten the functioning of the MCI by amending the existing act of 1956.
“We wanted that there be not more than two terms for the (MCI’s) president and vice president. The standing committee said this was unconstitutional. The power of the government to dissolve the MCI was not accepted.
“The power to remove the president, the vice president and the members of the executive council was not accepted. The power to issue directives to the MCI was also not accepted,” Azad pointed out.
Earlier, in a statement made in the house, Azad said medical education in the country needed to be reformed to enable the MCI to function in a “fair and objective manner”.
“Our first and immediate concern should be to restore the credibility of the MCI and to enable (it) to function in a fair and objective manner and also to restore the confidence of those involved in medical education in the country,” he said.
“The government is examining several possible avenues to achieve these objectives taking into account both the present legal status as well as those essential elements of reform that would be necessary,” he added.
The MCI has been in the eye of a storm every since its president, Ketan Desai, was arrested on charges of accepting a bribe of Rs.2 crore for granting recognition to a private medical college in Punjab.
A court here Monday dismissed Desai’s bail plea.

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