September 8th, 2009 - 5:32 pm ICT

Panaji, Sep 8 (IANS) A top Goa health official Tuesday said news reports on swine flu in the state could not be trusted while the media continues to be critical of the government’s handling of H1N1 infections in the state.
“Articles which we can trust are very few. On several occasions, important points are missed, giving an incomplete picture,” state Director of Health Services (DHS) Rajnanda Desai told reporters at a media sensitisation workshop in the city Tuesday. Asking the media to exercise caution, Desai, referring to Goa’s first reported swine flu death Sunday, said people often blamed “god and then the government” when it came to deaths during epidemics such as swine flu.
“Look at the recent swine flu death in Canacona. People immediately started blaming the DHS after blaming god for what has happened,” Desai said, exhorting the media to report in an unbiased manner and not level allegations loosely.
Desai, who incidentally refused to take any queries from the media following her presentation, also said new media like the internet, mobile phones and blogs, along with mainstream media interfaces, had resulted in quicker percolation of swine flu related information to people.
The media in Goa has been generally critical of the state government’s handling of the swine flu outbreak in the state.
Goa, which recorded its first swine flu patient June 10 and the first death Sunday, had witnessed chaotic scenes initially with embarrassing lapses in communication between state Health Secretary Sanjiv Srivastava, health services director Desai and then swine flu nodal officer Rajendra Tamba.
Tamba, a senior official, was unceremoniously transferred to a rural dispensary after he went public on the state’s apathy to the swine flu control programme, which he claimed was not being funded by the state government.
There have been at least 135 swine flue deaths and over 4,800 infected cases in India so far.