An outbreak of fever in the pre-monsoon period, possibly triggered by climate change, has claimed 62 lives in Kerala in the last four months, of which 24 were due to H1N1 influenza, state health minister KK Shylaja said in the Assembly on Thursday. 

Shylaja said that though the outbreak of different types of fever, including dengue and chicken pox besides H1N1, was reported across the state, the health department was well-equipped to contain it. Replying to a notice for an adjournment motion by the opposition over the issue, the minister said climate change and scarcity of pure drinking water were among the reasons for the outbreak of many diseases. 

"Government hospitals are well-equipped to tackle the outbreak of any type of fever. Adequate amount of medicines are stocked in all state-run pharmacies. This year, there is an increase in the outbreak of H1N1 in the southern states...And in Kerala also it has started spreading," she said. 

Adequate number of doctors have been appointed from the primary health centres itself, Shylaja said. Multi-level meetings of officials of various departments had been conducted since January to evolve preventive and precautionary mechanisms to tackle the outbreak of dengue and other fevers, she pointed out. A total of Rs 73 lakh had been sanctioned by the health department in March to implement various preventive measures in this regard, the minister added. 

Meanwhile, Congress leader and former health minister VS Sivakumar, who moved the notice, said the government's laxity and delay in taking precautionary measures had resulted in the spread of diseases this year. 

As many as 62 people had died due to various diseases in the state even before the onset of monsoon season, the minister stressed. "Over seven lakh people sought treatment for fever in various government hospitals in the last four months. Seven out of eight people died this month due to H1N1," he said. 

Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala blamed lack of coordination between departments and the absence of a scientific waste management system for the 'grave' situation. The Congress-led Opposition later staged a walkout after Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan disallowed their demand for discussion over the issue.

(with PTI inputs)