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Updated: June 29, 2010 14:30 IST

UDF stages walkout in Assembly over Sreemathi’s absence

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Kerala Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi. Photo:S. Gopakumar
The Hindu Kerala Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi. Photo:S. Gopakumar

Congress-led UDF Opposition on Tuesday staged a walkout in the State Assembly, in protest against Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi’s trip to the U.S. “when the state was in the grip of fever” and accused the government of being “indifferent” to the swine flu situation.

Opposition leader and former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy demanded that the government call back Ms. Sreemathi, who left for the U.S. on Monday, taking into consideration the health situation in the State.

Seeking leave for an adjournment motion on the matter, Mr. Chandy said the government failed to take appropriate preventive measures which led to spurt in fever cases during the monsoon season.

The government’s decision to implement special cadre system and subsequent transfer of doctors has aggravated the situation as several government hospitals are left with few doctors, Mr. Chandy said.

Mr. Chandy alleged that Ms. Sreemathi had gone to the U.S. to attend a meeting of the Malayalees Association in North America which could have been avoided.

Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem refuted the charges and said the fever was under control and “there is no alarming situation in the State”.

With the government taking necessary steps, the number of cases were lesser compared to previous years, he said. However, he said government viewed the situation “very seriously”.

“The government hospitals have doctors, para-medical staff and enough stock of medicines,” he said.

Referring to H1N1 influenza situation, he said during June, 30 persons died of swine flu and seven others due to other types of fever.

Justiying Ms. Sreemathi’s visit, he said it was for getting latest treatment technology in cancer and diabetes.

Speaker K. Radhakrishnan refused leave for the motion after Mr. Kareem’s reply, leading to the UDF walkout.

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