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Mess in Bengal, ‘so in Europe’

Calcutta, Nov. 7: There was an admission of failure, but an excuse was at the ready. As was a comparison that few could digest.

The venue for these soundbites was the Health and Wellbeing Show 2003, an exhibition-cum-seminar organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry in association with the state government.

Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra candidly admitted that the government had failed to fulfil people’s expectations with regard to the health sector.

But he said this was so because of lack of funds. And, hold your breath, the “same phenomenon” is seen in “European countries” as well, Mishra added.

He then attacked the favourite whipping-boy, blaming the Centre for the funds crunch. “The Centre was to provide one per cent of the total budgetary allocation for health sector. But actually they have allotted only 0.9 per cent,” the minister said.

Despite this, he said, Bengal had racked up 98 per cent growth in the last five years. Mishra said the number of patients in state hospitals were not equally distributed. “There is a need to rationalise the load of patients for better functioning of the hospitals.”

He said the number of ultrasonography tests and x-rays have increased manifold during the last five years. He added that the Clinical Establishment Act would give the government more power over private nursing homes.

Somnath Chatterjee, CPM MP and chairman of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, slammed the media for dwelling on the negatives of the state health system. “I will offer land to (the) Calcutta Press Club in Santiniketan. Let them build a hospital there and run it smoothly,” he said.

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