Swine flu claimed 344 lives in India in 2012

New Delhi:  Swine flu claimed 344 lives this year even though the pandemic has subsided in the country, Union Health Ministry told the Lok Sabha on Friday.

In a written reply to a question in the House, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said according to WHO, the infection has moved into post-pandemic period and is now circulating as seasonal influenza.

"The pandemic of influenza A H1N1 has subsided.

According to WHO, it has moved into post-pandemic period. The pandemic influenza A H1N1 virus is now circulating as seasonal influenza A H1N1 virus and sporadic outbreaks are reported from across the country," Azad said.

He also gave the figures related to number of swine flu cases and deaths thereupon in the country during the present year.

Total 4,568 cases of swine flu were registered in the country this year, with the highest number of 1493 infections being reported from Maharashtra.

Karnataka and Kerala witnessed 810 and 619 cases of infection. The National Capital recorded 72 cases with only one death from January to November this year.

Maharashtra also reported maximum number of 125 deaths, followed by 44 fatalities in Karnataka. In Kerala, 14 people died because of the infection. 33 people died in Andhra Pradesh where 310 cases of infections were reported this year.

Uttar Pradesh, which reported 124 people infected, surprisingly had no deaths due to swine flu. Tamil Nadu also succeeded in controlling the outbreak of the disease. While 590 infections were reported in Tamil Nadu, the number of people who succumbed to it was only 29.

The Minister also said that Rs 2.42 crore WHO fund was utilised and was spent by the government for holding District Level Training of Rapid Response Teams to contain swine flu infection.               

On availability of medicine, Azad said, "Adequate stock of Oseltamivir capsules is available to treat influenza A H1N1. Indigenous capacity is available to manufacture influenza A H1N1 vaccine in the country."

Replying to a separate query on 'Spending in the Health Sector', he said, "According to WHO statistics 2012, the total expenditure on health as percentage of GDP in 2009 is 4.2 per cent for India, as compared to developed countries like Germany (11.7 per cent), France (11.9 per cent), Canada (11.4 per cent), United Kingdom (9.8 per cent) and USA (17.6 percent)."

He further added that the public expenditure on health, as a percentage of GDP in 2009, for India stood at 1.3 per cent.

On plans to increase spending in health sector, Azad said, "Indian Medical Association (IMA) has demanded that resources be found to spend at least three per cent of the GDP on health."

In reply to a question on quality of imported drugs, Azad said that 14 such cases of import of spurious drugs had come to notice in the current year.

"Drugs found spurious or substandard are not permitted to be released for import by the customs authorities. The cases of import of spurious drugs in 2009-2010 were investigated by CBI and prosecution was launched on basis of evidence as per the provision of the law," he said.

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