Failure to capitalise on disease surveillance

BHUBANESWAR: Frequent outbreak of diseases has failed to wake up the State Government. Despite public health disorders in rural and tribal districts, Health Department has not been able to mak

Published: 28th April 2012 08:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 10:32 PM   |  A+A-


BHUBANESWAR: Frequent outbreak of diseases has failed to wake up the State Government. Despite public health disorders in rural and tribal districts, Health Department has not been able to make fully functional the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) which the Centre had launched in 2004.

IDSP is a decentralised State-based surveillance programme meant for detecting early warning signals of impending outbreaks and help secure an effective response in time. The Odisha Government, though, has not benefited much from it.

According to IDSP reports, the State witnessed as many as 55 outbreaks of diseases in 2011, the highest in last four years. In 2008, 17 outbreaks were reported. The next year, the number jumped to 38 but saw a decline in 2010 to 19.

Last year, however, as many 29 acute diarrhoeal outbreaks, two anthrax as well as malaria each, eight measles and 13 instances of food poisoning were reported. The diarrhoeal outbreaks included spread of cholera.

In face of a rise in outbreak of diseases, the Department has not been able to fill up at least 28 vacant posts of technical staff including 26 key positions of epidemiologists. The posts of microbiologists and entomologists have also not been filled up.

A review report of the IDSP reveals that last year, the Government sent clinical samples for laboratory investigation in just 20 per cent of the outbreaks while only four per cent of outbreaks were etiologically confirmed. Complete investigation reports were available only for a few of the outbreaks indicating that the Department did not have total knowledge of the disorders and their patterns.

Similarly, the reporting of surveillance data also remained far from satisfactory. Although all 30 districts are equipped to report through the IDSP portal, just 24 did. However, not all reporting centres used the facility. Of the 1,709 centres, only 57 per cent reported surveillance data on a weekly basis.

The IDSP mandated integration and decentralisation of all surveillance activities, strengthening of public health laboratories, improvement of HRD through training of surveillance officers, rapid response teams and other medical and paramedical staff besides use of IT data processing. But the State failed to do so.

With cases of water-borne diseases showing a rising trend, the State has been asked to analyse smaller geographical areas for detection of early warning systems and improve its surveillance data reporting system besides fully investigating the outbreaks.

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