THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies (AMCHSS) under the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology has come out with a study underscoring the need to develop a road map for addressing the potential health risks during religious gatherings.
Titled ‘Content validity of the newly developed risk assessment tool (Mass Gathering Risk Assessment Tool-MGRAT) for religious mass gathering events in an Indian setting’, the study underscores the need for planning and identification of health risks during religious mass gatherings.
“The public health system effectively manages most of the religious mass gathering events. But when it comes to the risk assessment conducted in the field, it is almost nil. Hence, to place the right measures in place to address the foreseeable and unforeseeable risks, the proposed MGRAT tool will be fundamental,” reads an excerpt from the study.
It also highlights that the developed tool, MGRAT, is a pioneer attempt to develop a risk assessment tool to assess health risks associated with mass gatherings in Indian settings.
The study that identifies a sum total of 48 unique health risks including stampedes, fire accidents, structural collapse, drowning, outbreak of communicable diseases, exacerbation of existing medical illnesses such as cardiac diseases, asthma, and others, also says that a ten-year analysis of public health safety in 27 traditional mass gathering events of India indicated around 936 death and 540 injured casualties.
At the same time, an officer of the Health Department said the risk assessment at religious mass gatherings in state is limited to Sabarimala and Guruvayur shrines.
“The department is yet to conduct a risk assessment at religious mass gatherings. But during Sabarimala season, the monitoring of infectious diseases is carried out through Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme. In the case of Guruvayur, the focus is on malaria monitoring,” said the department officer.
“At times of H1N1 outbreak, the department also issues advisory to remain cautious during religious mass gatherings,” the officer said.
The study was carried out by Sankara Sarma and Upasana Sharma of AMCHSS and B R Desikachari, a retired officer of Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Government of Tamil Nadu.