Indian Health Minister JP Nadda made his first statement on seasonal flu in Parliament and stated no stone has been left unturned to fight the outbreak on Tuesday.
However, it seems that opposition and health experts are not quite satisfied with this and there were direct comparison of him with senior minister Sushma Swaraj who handled India's first major medical crisis - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) - in 2003.
AdvertisementA senior official closely associated with Swaraj during the SARS outbreak recalled how the minister took multiple briefings from officials and inspected hospitals. "Handling an epidemic-proportion syndrome is also about creating public awareness and handling the media. Sushmaji was right on top of things. She would sometimes brief the media twice a day about the arrangements being made," the official said.
Officials told ET that Nadda has been reviewing the situation regularly. However, Nadda's statement in parliament was his first public remark on the issue. Unlike his predecessors, Nadda has not held press briefings on seasonal flu. Although there have been press releases and random news bytes to television, there has been no statement from the minister on the issue especially to curb panic.
"The issue has been because of medical inertia over the last two years. Doctors have forgotten the spread of flu in 2009 and 2010. The public is not being advised that there is no need for mass vaccination or even tests. Not everyone needs to be tested. The deaths being reported have been due to delayed treatment," said Dr VM Katoch, directorgeneral of Indian Council of Medical Research.