Apex institute for communicable diseases on anvil

Friday, October 29, 2010

NEW DELHI - Worried after the outbreak of dengue and swine flu in the country, the government is to soon set up an apex institute for communicable diseases on the lines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States.

The health ministry has put forward a proposal for converting the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) into an apex body looking after communicable diseases.

Health ministry sources said that a cabinet note has been prepared for consultation with various ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office.

“The need has been felt to have an apex centre to deal with communicable diseases. We had two major ones, H1N1 and dengue this year, that is why this proposal has been mooted,” a health ministry official said.

“An amount of Rs.382.41 crore has been earmarked for the proposal,” he said.

Established in 1909 as Central Bureau of Malaria at Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh and renamed as Malaria Survey of India in 1927, the NCDC shifted to Delhi in 1938 and was called National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) in 1963.

It was rechristened as NCDC in July 2009. The institute is a centre of excellence for building up capacity for surveillance of outbreak prone communicable diseases and provides technical expertise in the field of disease prevention and control.

The institute has not undergone any upgradation for decades and sometimes falls short of fulfilling its growing mandate to address emerging and re-emerging diseases.

“The upgraded institute will be in a better position to provide leadership in the field of public health, strengthen the capabilities of states and UTs in disease outbreak, investigation and response. It will also be better prepared against the possible threat of bio-terrorism and in a better position to respond to public health emergencies of international concern,” the official said.

The concept plan for upgrading the centre has been developed in consultation with the Indian Council of Medical Research, CDC Atlanta, World Health Organisation and World Bank. An independent appraisal of the proposal was carried out by IIT Delhi.

“The work will include civil works for the creation of new infrastructure in terms of labs, advance bio-safety levels and upgraded labs. Administrative block, auditorium, library, hostel and residential facilities will also be upgraded while retaining the heritage character of the existing structure. State of art equipment will be installed to meet the current and future needs,” he said.

A total of 245 additional posts consisting of 210 technical and 35 administrative posts are to be created by March 2013.

Filed under: Dengue, Medicine, Swine Flu

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