As if swine ‘flu weren’t bad enough…

Lib Dem shadow health secretary Norman Lamb has warned that diseases such as whooping cough and scarlet fever are making a “dramatic comeback”. The Health Service Journal reports:

Cases of whooping cough have almost trebled since 2003, from 386 to 1,071 a year in 2008. The number of cases of scarlet fever has risen from 2,121 in 2003 to 2,845 in 2008.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “It is shocking that diseases which should belong to a bygone era are making a dramatic comeback. Ministers have ‘failed in their duty’

“Many of these illnesses can be prevented with a simple vaccine. It is intolerable that ministers have failed in their duty to prevent these easily avoidable diseases.

“The fact that these diseases are often connected with poverty shows the growing health inequalities that this government has presided over. Labour has failed in its duty to help the people who need it the most.”

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One Comment

  • Perhaps I’ve missed it, but if not I’m amazed that there’s been no comment at all here about swine flu.

    This article in the Telegraph contains a lengthy litany of complaints about shortcomings in the government’s plans, including criticism by Norman Lamb of the fact that the funding for the “National Fluline” – through which antiviral drugs were meant to have been prescribed – had been delayed by the Treasury for 7 months, with the result that it cannot now be ready before October. That’s despite its having been promised in 2007.

    The article concludes with this:

    Flu expert Professor John Oxford said so far the world had been “jolly lucky” that a pandemic has yet to develop, and that symptoms in this country have been relatively mild.

    He said: “If the luck holds, we need to treat this as a dress rehearsal, which is exposing weaknesses in our planning that we now need to tackle.”

    Indeed, it’s to be hoped that our luck will hold. But as the best scientific opinion continues to stress the unpredictability of the future course of the outbreak, there is an urgent need for opposition politicians to scrutinise and expose shortcomings in the government’s plans for dealing with a pandemic.

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