Azad hits out at 'lethargic' state govts

Karnataka and Maharashtra, the worst hit, did not attend health ministers meet on A(H1N1)

Azad hits out at 'lethargic' state govts


Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad at the State Health Ministers meeting in New Delhi on Friday. PTI

Using harsh and unparliamentary language, Azad said despite health being a state subject, it was the Central officials who were slogging to contain the pandemic while the states seemed to have forgotten their duties.

“We have stretched ourselves to the farthest level. Now, you have to shed lethargy and be active,” Azad told the state ministers and officials. He, however, clarified that his attack was targeted only at some states.

Emphasising that health being a state subject, Azad said, of late, it had become the Centre’s baby. The states have “chickened out” and reduced funding for heath, instead of pumping more money into it, he said adding the state governments had left everything to the Centre. Though the meet was meant to review the national rural health mission, the spiralling cases of swine flu (2,401 till Thursday) and 36 deaths triggered Azad’s diatribe.

The minister once even used an unparliamentary word and did not retract it despite objections. “He (Azad) was behaving as if he was a principal and we were his students,” said Gujarat Health Minister Jai Narain Vyas. While Azad did not spare the chief ministers, he made direct attacks on his state counterparts. “I have to chase the state health ministers. It is so difficult to get them. It is easy to get the chief ministers rather than health ministers,” Azad said.

The health ministers from Karnataka and Maharashtra — the states most affected by the swine flu — were not present at the meet. “It is not the duty of the Centre to identify beds and train health officers. It is the duty of the states.

The states seem to have forgotten their duties. We have been working hard for the past three months and you (states) are having aish (good time). We (the Centre) can go only up to a point,” he said.

The Centre deputed many additional secretary-level officials to tour the states for checking the health infrastructure. The officials reported to Azad that many states were merely doing khanapurtis (completing formalities) without arranging for adequate number of beds and doctors to tackle the crisis. “Some states said they can only arrange 150 beds despite having many private hospitals. What is this!” the minister wondered aloud. The states were also accused of keeping Central advisories on paper rather than disseminating the information. “We expect the state officials to sit till 10 pm for disseminating the information to the public,” he said.

DH News Service

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