English TV channels have been ‘educating’ (ya right!) viewers about swine flu in India ‘every second’. Regional language TV channels have done a good job in reporting the ‘correct amount’ of information related to swine flu.
Recently the Health Minister of India, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said the govt would launch a H1N1 site by August 13th, 2009. When it comes to propagating Swine Flu (or any epidemic) related information the onus needs to be first on the government and not on the media.
The State governments too have a duty in decimating Swine Flu info in ‘all mediums of media’ WHICH INCLUDES the internet!! When it comes to the internet unfortunately the state governments have left it to the Central/Federal government . Anyway let us examine as of today which government has done what (if anything!)
- Ministry of Health (Central/Federal govt): Please were dark shaded goggles before you visit this site.
- Andhra Pradesh: Why is the URL not ap.gov.in or andhrapradesh.gov.in? Just cannot find any info about Swine Flu
- Delhi: The site has a message “Database Server is not currently running. Please check this page after some time. Inconvenience is regretted.” At least they are regretting the inconvenience caused. You are excused.
- Karnataka: We residents of Bangalore are proud about our IT/BT culture. We need to re-examine it. http://karnataka.gov.in doesn’t work, http://www.karnataka.gov.in gets redirected to http://www.karunadu.gov.in/ How can the Central government even agree to approve a domainname which is not the official name of the state? Again, no info about H1N1.
- Maharashtra: As of now http://www.maharashtra.gov.in/ is a blank page. Is the government trying to tell us “No comments?”
- Pune: Pune is not a state but the Swine Flu capital of India. No info about Swine Flu
- Tamil Nadu: The health department site http://www.tnhealth.org/ doesn’t seem to work. A true reflection about the department I guess.
- Kerala: This is the only state which has something about Swine Flu on their main page. The info is not enough but surely it is a good start. So Left has got it right!
Common Problems With The Above Sites
- The main page needs to have info about H1N1 or a link to a page that is about H1N1
- The health department of each state needs to be pro-active. They seem to be in hibernation. There is no data about H1N1 on their sites
- They can always give the basic info (e.g. hospitals in their state which take up swine flu cases) and for the rest of the info they can just add links.
- Publish phone numbers that WORK!
- Remember most of the internet users are not English literate. The government needs to publish at least such critical information in multiple languages.