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Kerala's ex-health minister KK Shailaja under scanner over corruption in purchase of PPE kits

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Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 18: Kerala's former health minister KK Shailaja, who refused to accept prestigious Ramon Magsaysay award in September, is under scanner over alleged corruption in the purchase of PPE kits and other medical equipment during the initial period of COVID-19 pandemic.

Keralas ex-health minister KK Shailaja under scanner over corruption in purchase of PPE kits

Kerala Lokayukta issued notice to the state's former health minister KK Shailaja and a few others following a complaint filed by Congress leader Veena S Nair who accused that many items were purchased at an exorbitant rate.

The ex-minister can either appear before the Lokayukta or through their counsel before 9 December 2022, officials told ANI.

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Responding to the allegations, KK Shailaja said that medical equipment were purchased at higher prices as there was a scarcity. "The Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd (KMSCL) had informed me that they were running out of PPE kits. But if the kits were not purchased, health workers would be at risk. When I discussed the issue with the Chief Minister, he asked me to get them from wherever possible, but only after ensuring the quality of the product. The price of PPE kits in the market had increased by then. A PPE kit which was formerly available for Rs 500 was being sold for Rs 1500," The New Minute quoted her as saying.

KK Shailaja was known as a "rockstar" health minister for the way she handled the first wave of COVID-19 outbreak in Kerala. She was also hailed for her role in checking the Nipah virus.

The manner in which the small state handled such outbreaks was appreciated at national and international levels.

She was considered for 64th Magsaysay Award for the commitment and dedication shown by her during the health crisis and service towards ensuring an accessible public health system, according to a report in the New Indian Express.

However, the CPI (M) analysed from different aspects before asking her not to accept the award as she was discharging her duties as the minister assigned by the government.

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