WB's poor deprived of health facilities: Union Minister

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Bolepur/Kolkata, Jan 20 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Health Panabakka Lakshmi today expressed serious concern over the 'pathetic health scenario' in West Bengal and alleged that the poor people were deprived of proper health care facilities.

Talking to UNI here after paying a surprise visit to the Bolepur 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 the disease, 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 hygeine and safety precautions,'' she said.

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

Ms Lakshmi had also paid a visit to Santiniketan yesterday and held meetings with the District Magistrate and health officers.

Meanwhile, unofficial reports received from various parts of the state said a few birds had died of unnatural causes at Habra, Bilkanda and Bongaon areas of North 24 Parganas district.

However, no official confirmation was yet received on whether the areas were declared bird flu-hit.

Reports of a few birds dying in Bardhaman district had also been received.

District officials said all precautionary measures were being taken to prevent the spread of the dreaded disease from the adjoining districts.

UNI XC-DPM PL MSJ BD1625

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