Former health minister, Dr Fuad Khan, is demanding that the current health minister retract his allegation that the People’s Partnership Government hid critical information on the H1N1 virus and related deaths in the country.
The call comes in the wake of statements Terrence Deyalsingh made at a PNM political meeting in Tunapuna, this week.
According to Minister Deyalsingh, former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar allegedly instructed public officials to hide swine flu mortality statistics, during the period 2013 to 2015.
However, Dr Fuad Khan—who was health minister then—states categorically, there was no conspiracy and the current minister's comments are very unfair.
He says "data not available" does not mean "data was hidden or covered up".
And he insists that Minister Terrance Deyalsingh retract his accusation.
“We’ve never hidden data from the population of Trinidad and Tobago,” he asserts. “If there are no reagents to test for H1N1, you can’t get the data. Before you can get data, you have to send samples of cases you suspect of being H1N1 to the National Public Health Lab,” Dr Khan explains. “If those samples are sent and the Lab does not have the reagents to do the testing, you cannot get the data.”
Dr Khan notes that government’s push to ensure the availability of 100,000 H1N1 vaccines in the country for this flu season, is nothing extra special.
The former health minister says the numbers of immuno-compromised people in the country may have increased, making it necessary for government to bring in more of the vaccine.
“The people who have really serious complications are those who are immune-compromised,” he notes, “such as people who are diabetic, young children, elderly people, etc.”
He also points out that many more people are aware of H1n1, and are requesting vaccination, since the virus made its first appearance in 2009.
Dr Fuad Khan says the H1N1 virus is cyclic in nature—mutating every three to four years—and timely vaccination is part of the defence against it.
Story by NEWS DESK