06 January 2011
By Umesh Isalkar
"The aim is to check infectious diseases in the very beginning and prevent its transmission in the community by adopting stringent surveillance measures. Usually, by the time it is realised that the disease is spreading, it has already acquired the epidemic proportion. The recent outbreak of leptospirosis in Konkan region is a stark example of this. The surveillance will curb the disease in the bud and make timely medical intervention a reality," Renu Bharadwaj, dean of B J Medical College and Sassoon general hospital, told TOI on Wednesday.
The pathology, micro–biology and bio–chemistry departments of all the 14 government medical colleges were recently inspected by a team of experts. The identified departments will be strengthened and new testing kits will be provided to them for faster detection of infectious diseases, Bharadwaj added.
In the wake of the swine flu outbreak in India, the World Bank (WB) has granted an extension and grant–in–aid to India for implementation of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) in some states. In 2004, the WB had approved $68 million to the Indian government to implement the project.
"This agreement was due to expire on March 31, 2010, but at a review meeting held in New Delhi on November 10, 2010 it was decided to extend the project for another two years," said a state government official.
The objective of the IDSP is to detect early warning signals of any outbreaks and help initiate an effective response in a timely manner. Major components of its prime functions are integration and decentralisation of surveillance activities; strengthening public health laboratories; human resource development training of medical and paramedical staff and use of information technology for collection, analysis and dissemination of data.
"The extension will boost our efforts to check infectious diseases like the H1N1 virus which hit us hard," said Sharad Agarkhedkar, president of the city chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA).
The IDSP is underway in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana.
Aims of the IDSP
- Establish and operate a disease surveillance unit under the Union ministry of health and family welfare to help co–ordinate and decentralise disease surveillance activities
- Integrate and strengthen disease surveillance at the state and district levels, addressing co–ordination constraints at sub–national levels, the limited use of modern technology and data management techniques
- Upgrade laboratories at the state level and improve laboratory surveillance activities. Support includes diagnosis, monitoring drug resistance and changes in disease agents
- Provide training for disease surveillance and action, to support the changes envisaged under the first three components. Training programmes will include representatives from the private sector, NGOs and community groups