India asks WHO to explain swine flu alarm

January 20th, 2010 - 11:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 20 (IANS) India Wednesday asked the World Health Organisation (WHO) to explain reports that the swine flu was a “false pandemic”.
Union Health Secretary K. Sujatha Rao, who is attending the executive board meeting of the world health organisation in Geneva, raised the issue about media reports that the flu was “a false pandemic”.

“She pointed out that such news reports were adversely impacting upon the public health measures being undertaken by countries,” said an official statement issued here.

On June 11, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, while announcing the influenza pandemic, said it was a new virus that was “contagious, spreading easily from one person to another, and from one country to another.”

Rao also demanded greater transparency about terms and conditions on which international vaccine manufacturers were supplying vaccines to countries.

“In response to this intervention by India, it was agreed that WHO would formally write to National Focal Points in all countries clarifying the factual position about the H1N1 pandemic to quell all doubts that have been created,” the statement said.

It is being widely believed that the alarm was raised to benefit pharmaceutical companies.

On Tuesday, Union Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi said that India has demanded an inquiry to establish why the WHO pressed the panic button over the outbreak of swine flu.

“We definitely demand an inquiry into the whole issue. WHO is not god. The inquiry will tell us why there was an alarm sounded by the WHO. Even the western media is questioning the WHO on this. We are definitely demanding an inquiry,” Trivedi said.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Tuesday said his ministry had always advocated people not to panic. “And you know why we have said not to panic six months back,” Azad said.

So far, India has reported over 1,150 deaths due to the contagious virus and over 28,000 people have been infected with the disease till now.

On Wednesday, 11 deaths were recorded in the country, eight from Gujarat, taking the total deaths from the contagion to 1,154.

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