Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad talks about the measures taken to contain the spread of flu.
Seven deaths in one week. How critical is the situation? Are things under control?
In comparison, we are far better placed than the so-called developed countries. America has seen 434 deaths so far and the official UK website on Sunday said they were slightly better off this week with only 30,000 cases reported as compared to last week when 1,30,000 cases were reported. With our kind of population, the fatality is under 10 and cases under 1,000.
With the numbers increasing rapidly, what is the government's plan of action now?
We are not wasting time in written correspondence with states. We have asked for additional and joint secretaries from other ministries to form a team. They, along with our health officers, will fly to affected states to assess the situation and convey instructions. In all international flights, airhostesses will announce instructions regarding the flu to create
Have you reached out to the private sector?
We have finalised the guidelines for private labs and hospitals and communicated them to the states as well. So far, we haven't approached any of them, but shall do so in a day or two. Those who are found fit to conduct tests by our team of experts will be given a go-ahead.
Will private hospitals be allowed to treat people with Tamiflu?
If they have to treat patients, they need to have a stock of the medicine. We will distribute the medicine to them. However, the medicine will not be sold in retail.
What if the private sector is not interested in testing and treating people?
For the government, things aren't as easy to control in a private set-up as it is in a government set-up. But now that the numbers are rising, we'll have to make it mandatory for private hospitals, especially in places where numbers are high, to conduct tests.