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No check on fatalities

The swine flu virus, which has run ragged on the national populace, has shown no signs of receding. The virus claimed the lives of 21 more people, as the toll reached 833 across the country, while the number of persons affected by H1N1 virus breached the 14,000 mark, as per data up to February 22. The maximum toll was reported from Rajasthan with 214 deaths, while 207 people have perished in Gujarat. The actual number fatalities, however, could be much higher because of poor access to health facilities and inadequate surveillance. 

Although the present dispensation had made some initial noises of ‘health insurance for all’, it has not even begun the process of fixing the necessary health infrastructure required to utilise the minimal funds allocated for public health. The private health sector, meanwhile, continues to grow at 15 per cent a year. India spends about 1 per cent of its GDP on public health, compared to 3 per cent in China and 8.3 per cent in the United States. It is about time the government woke up.

The underlying narrative that has emerged from this entire episode is the poor state of public health infrastructure and the lack of awareness in states that are most affected states by the virus.
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