Toll 47 in Alappuzha; Minister visits hospital
Minister too confirms chikungunya deaths Says not for controversy over Achuthanandan's statement
ALAPPUZHA: Two more persons were reported dead of chikungunya on Friday taking the toll to 47 in the district.
The deceased were identified as Maray Laya (8), Kurishumkal house, ward 18 of Cherthala municipality, and Karunakaran, (68), Variath Lakshamveedu Colony, ward number five of Pattanakkad panchayat.
Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy visited the Cherthala Taluk Hospital in the evening where hundreds of chikungunya-affected persons are undergoing treatment. The Minister reviewed the situation with officials. Later, she attended a meeting of people's representatives of Cherthala taluk. Ms. Sreemathy would again visit the area on Saturday.
Earlier in the capital, she said she was not for a controversy over Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan correcting her statement in the Assembly that there was no death on account of chikungunya.
"I agree with the opinion of the Chief Minister," she said. At the same time she maintained that she was not one who could be misled by officials.
She said that while people had died of chikungunya, the medical reports were to the contrary. Lack of facilities for proper diagnosis was a factor. She said the Government would carry out a Rs.2.5-crore programme for the development of the Virology Institute at Alappuzha, which would be able to assist in diagnosis.
Chandy flays Government
The failure to implement the Universal Health Insurance Scheme envisaged by the former United Democratic Front (UDF) Government has cost the victims of chikungunya dear, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has said.
Speaking at a Meet-the-Press programme organised by the Alappuzha Press Club on Friday, Mr. Chandy said if the scheme was implemented, the families of those who had died of chikungunya would have received compensation of around Rs.1 lakh each and those undergoing treatment would have received financial aid. He said majority of those dead were from poor families.
Mr. Chandy said the UDF would not oppose the alternate insurance scheme being prepared by the LDF Government, provided the premium to be paid by the beneficiaries was not more than that of the previous plan. The benefits offered by the new scheme should not be less than the previous plan, he said.
Mr. Chandy said the LDF opposed the previous Government's scheme by saying that only insurance schemes by public sector companies were welcome. Mr. Chandy said the ICICI-Lombard had quoted the lowest premium for implementing such a scheme. He said the insurance scheme was for the benefit of poor people and not for promoting public sector insurance companies.
Mr. Chandy said the compensation announced by the Chief Minister for the victims of chikungunya should have been provided earlier. He said he did not want to blame the Government for the outbreak of the epidemic, but the Government had failed to realise the gravity of the situation. He said the UDF would not make chikungunya outbreak a political issue.
On the Marad inquiry commission report, Mr. Chandy said there were efforts from some quarters to create division in society based on the report. This, he said, was a dangerous trend.
Mr. Chandy said the efforts to corner the former Chief Minister A.K. Antony and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) in the light of the report would not succeed. He, later, visited the chikungunya-affected at the Cherthala Taluk Hospital.