Union Minister criticises health facility;mystery rashes in N24 parg

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Kolkata, Jan 20 (UNI) Fear of bird flu spread in parts of North 24 Parganas, close to Kolkata, where 15 people were reported to be suffering from rashes, even as a Union Minister today expressed grave concern over the 'pathetic health scenario' in the state.

Barrackpore Municipality sources today said measles-like rashes had erupted on the skin of 15 people, including nine children, of three families of Navin Palli in Kanchrapara municipal area in North 24 Parganas, causing panic there.

While there had not been any official reports on the spread of the infection, Councillor Ira Majumdar said she had reported the matter to Chairman Sankar Basak.

Municipal authorities had, however, decided to send a medical team to examine the patients of several houses in Ward No 3, where some people had complained of suffering insect bites from a neighouring house where the house-owner reared a few hens.

Meanwhile, in Bolpur Union Minister of State for Health Panabakka Lakshmi expressed serious concern over the 'pathetic health scenario' in the state and alleged that the poor people were deprived of proper health care facilities.

Talking to UNI after paying a surprise visit to the Bolpur Sub-Divisional Hospital and Primary Health Centre, she said, ''Despite the Centre extending all possible cooperation in tackling the situation as well as providing masks, ventilators and other necessary equipment to contain Avian Influenza, the state government has failed to handle the alarming crisis created by the outbreak of bird flu.'' Ms Lakshmi alleged that the condition of the isolated wards in which the affected patients were being treated and which she had personally overseen, was 'abject'.

''There are no proper beds and other essential equipment and they are also found wanting in hygiene and safety precautions,'' she said.

The minister is scheduled to hold a meeting with the state Health department officials here tomorrow to review the steps taken to control the dreaded disease, official sources said.

EDS: Here pick up suitably from earlier series.

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