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Message from Director

 

Director NCDC

Dr. S. Venkatesh

It has been more than a century since its establishment as Central Malaria Bureau at Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh) in 1909, the Institute has been carrying on its shoulder the prime responsibility of fighting against the communicable diseases in the country. Its contribution in elimination and eradication of several diseases of public health importance such as Small Pox, Guinea worm, Lymphatic Filariasis and Yaws in the country has been phenomenal. The country has been burdened with epidemics of emerging and reemerging diseases time and again.  Emergence of hitherto unreported diseases like SARS, H1N1 infection, Avian Influenza, recently reported outbreak of Crimean Congo Haemorhagic Fever as well as re-emergence of epidemics like Plague, Scrub Typhus, Leptospirosis etc. have all posed epidemic threats in the country in the past.  In each of these instance the institute has been endowed with the responsibility of undertaking epidemiological investigation on a war footing supported by the state of art laboratories providing prompt microbiological, biotechnological and entomological diagnosis.

 

Based on its contribution the institute has earned several recognitions viz. WHO collaborating Centre for Rabies Epidemiology and  Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio both for South East Asia Region, National Reference Laboratory for HIV/AIDS, Laboratory Diagnosis of Iodine Deficiency, Testing of Insecticides are only few to name.

NICD was entrusted with the task of country wide implementation of Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP), a World Bank funded project.  A significant progress has been made in implementation of IDSP with the setting up of an IT network connecting State, District Headquarters, Government Medical Colleges and important Public Health Institutes. Toll-free number (1075) has been operationalised for reporting of unusual disease events.  A 24x7 Outbreak Monitoring Cell providing vital and timely information about various epidemic prone diseases is now operational.

A 2 year MPH (Field Epidemiology) course (affiliated with GGSIP University, Delhi) and Field Epidemiology Training Programme (FETP) have been launched to meet the trained manpower requirement in the field of public health.

Recognizing the need to broaden cooperation on health especially emerging global diseases between India and USA, a Global Disease Detection (GDD) - India Centre has been established in NCDC. This is a joint coolaboration between the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India represented by NCDC and the US Department of Health and Human Service, represented by Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The GDD - India Centre intends to focus cooperation on development of human resources both epidemiological and laboratory and sharing best practices for detection and responses to emerging infections wherever required.

An innovative cost effectiveness mosquito proof desert cooler has been designed by the Institute in order to prevent breeding of mosquitoes responsible as vectors of Dengue and Chikunguniya virus.  The same has already been patented at the Patent Office of Government of India and had earned big name for the Institute in the form of prestigious award of ‘Certificate of Merit’ by the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.

Antimicrobial resistance in pathogens causing important communicable diseases has been a matter of great public health concern globally including our country.  MOHFW during August, 2010 constituted a National Task Force under the Chairmanship of DGHS, with Director, NCDC being the Member Secretary for containment of Antimicrobial resistance in the country with an objective to review the current scenario regarding manufacture use and misuse of antibiotics, to recommend the design for creation of a national Surveillance System for antibiotic resistance, to initiate studies  documenting prescription patterns and establish a monitoring system for the antibiotic usage to enforce and enhance regulatory provisions for use of antibiotics in human veterinary and industrial sector and strengthening of laboratories for providing rapid and reliable diagnosis of infectious disease as well as monitoring of antimicrobial resistance.

In addition, a MoU was signed in February, 2009 between Government of India and Sweden in various areas of health including the key issue of containment of antimicrobial resistance.

In view of emerging and reemerging pathogens many of whom  have already made entry into India, need for country-wide  disease outbreak  investigation and response as well as obligations under IHR (2005), it was considered necessary to expand the mandate of NCDC so as to meet broader challenges in public health in the pattern of CDC, USA with the rationale for development and strengthening of referral diagnostic support services, capacity building in public health, adoption of new technologies, as well as study the impact of climate change, urbanization and industrialization on disease.

A concept plan was developed in consultation with the experts from India Council of Medical Research, Premier Health Institutes, State Government, CDC (USA), WHO and World Bank etc.  The same was presented before Planning Commission on July, 2007 who agreed in principle and advised to undertake independent Appraisal of NICD and to prepare detailed project report (DPR). Independent appraisal was conduced by an agency selected through open tender in which Department of Management Studies, IIT, New Delhi was short-listed and engaged.  Subsequently, the report was submitted in May, 2008.

The various components of upgradation included Infrastructure, Equipments and Manpower.  The proposed structure of up graded NCDC would have two broad areas i.e. Epidemiology and disease Control and Referral Diagnostics and Laboratory Services. Cabinet has already approved the proposal with an approval budget of 382.41 crores with the budget components and infrastructure, equipments and manpower.  NBCC has been engaged as agency for construction of civil and services works.  Action to sign MoU between NCDC and NBCC is being undertaken.  The progress of up gradation of NCDC  is being monitoring by DGHS  as the Chairman of Project Management Committee, Director, NCDC as the Chairman of the Task Force as well as through a dedicated Cell established as NCDC for day to day monitoring.

Eversince I had the privilege of joining this prestigious Institute as twentieth Director,  I am overwhelmed by the support I received from my colleagues at the Institute as well as from officials at Dte.GHS and MOHFW. I feel inspired by such monumental support and aspire to broaden and strengthen my shoulder to take more and more responsibilities in future for the greater cause of tackling public health problem in the country.

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