States must shed lethargy on healthcare, H1N1 fronts: Azad


New Delhi : State governments had “chickened out” of their responsibilities and were to be blamed for not doing enough to control the spread of the H1N1 virus or improve health infrastructure, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Friday.

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“Some states are doing good but majority of states have not done well. Instead of me chasing them, they must chase me. Health is a state matter and so each state is duty bound to protect the lives of their people,” Azad said while addressing a state health ministers’ conference here.

He said states must shed their lethargy and do everything to control and contain the spread of the virus.

“I would request the state government to spend more to improve the healthcare sector, but I am afraid if they are chickening out. I am afraid whatever I provide will not benefit much.”

Emphasising that state governments should develop a mechanism to address health issues, the minister said: “I will talk to state chief ministers and health ministers to ask their finance ministers to improve the monetary allocation for health.”

Currently, India spends 1.41 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health but more efforts are required on the parts of central and state government to mobilise resources.

“It is unfortunate that state governments have failed to spend money (that the central government has provided), which they should have done,” Azad said.

India so far has reported 36 swine flu deaths with the highest 15 reported from Pune followed by nine in Bangalore.