CHANDIGARH: Field epidemiologist Omesh Kumar Bharti from Himachal Pradesh, whose path-breaking research in rabies brought down the cost of treatment for dog bites globally, has been conferred the Padma Shri.
“It is a pleasant surprise and a great recognition… I am thankful to the government. The recognition will certainly encourage researchers to work on low-cost lifesaving treatment in the interest of poor patients,” said Bharti, who took 17 years to conceptualise and implement the practical work in 2014.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the new protocol developed by Bharti to treat rabid dog bite patients as one of the least expensive therapies in the world, cutting costs almost a hundred times.
“I saw that not only was there a shortage of lifesaving rabies immunoglobulins but its cost too was high and unaffordable for poor patients with dog and monkey bites. I saw some deaths too, where the victims got the vaccine but didn’t get rabies immunoglobulins. It’s a revolutionary treatment that reduces the number of doses thus cutting the cost of treatment drastically to just Rs 350 from the existing Rs 35,000,” said Bharti who works at the Intra Dermal Anti-Rabies Clinic and Research Centre of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital in Shimla.
The list of winners of the Padma awards was announced by the Centre on the eve of Republic Day.