Chirac promises health revamp

French President Jacques Chirac on Thursday admitted shortcomings in the health system amid reports that the recent heatwave may have claimed up to 10,000 lives.

    The heat-deaths have dented President Chirac's reputation

    Faced with growing criticism over his government's handling of the calamity, Chirac made a rare televised address and pledged more cash for emergency services.

    "Everything will be done to remedy the inadequacies that we have seen in our health system," Chirac said.

    "Our emergency services, so essential, should be better recognised…they will receive the means to respond at any time to these exceptional circumstances," he said.

    The popular standing of the French government has dipped in the wake of the heat wave deaths.

    ''Everything will be done to remedy the inadequacies that we have seen in our health system''

    President Jacques Chirac

    An opinion poll by the CSA institute, published in daily Le Parisien, showed 51% thought Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin had not measured up to the crisis.

    As temperatures soared past 40 degrees Celsius in the first half of the month, the government initially put the death toll at 3000.

    But the estimated toll has since then been revised to 10,000.

    In comparison, Portugal reported the death of only 1316 people while Spain recorded just 100 deaths.

    France's health authority chief resigned on Monday as accusations grew that authorities had not done enough to meet the calamity.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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