The Health Department has decided to set up District Public Health Laboratory units in Kandhamal and Mayurbhanj districts to enable testing of outbreak-prone communicable diseases on the ground and initiate prompt action.
The units would be equipped with advanced infrastructure and testing facilities including ELISA for diagnosing dengue and diarrhoea without having to send samples to the State-level laboratories.
The objective is to strengthen disease detection infrastructure at the regional level so that the authorities and agencies concerned can initiate appropriate control and containment measures in time.
Presently, there is one district public health laboratory unit at Koraput in addition to the State Reference Laboratories at the three medical colleges - SCBMCH, Cuttack, MKCGMCH, Berhampur and VSSMCH, Burla, Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), Bhubaneswar and field units at Kalahandi and Rayagada.
The move to gradually strengthen laboratories at the district-level would bolster disease surveillance as well as prevention and control mechanisms as the State is bogged down by recurrent outbreak of epidemics. In 2012, diarrhoea was a major public health concern with seven major outbreaks claiming 59 lives out of 3,064 cases recorded.
While Southern tribal districts have been considered epicentres of acute diarrhoeal diseases (ADD), the Central districts of Angul and Dhenkanal emerged as the worst affected in 2012 reporting 810 and 518 cases respectively. Ganjam came third with 504 cases followed by Nabarangpur with 284 cases.According to the 2012 annual report of Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP), Angul accounted for most number of deaths at 10 with Dhenkanal, Ganjam and Nabarangpur following with seven deaths each. The first annual report to be published by the IDSP in Odisha was released by Health Minister Damodar Rout.
Dengue has been a major public health concern with 3,355 cases recorded and six deaths in 2012. Balasore was worst affected with 558 cases followed by Ganjam 534, Cuttack 141 and Jajpur 134.There were 1,358 cases of food poising with 25 casualties, 228 measles with five deaths, 217 hepatitis with one death and 28 anthrax cases. Japanese encephalitis also raised its ugly head with 256 cases and 25 deaths.
The report revealed that total 354 reports (termed rumours) on outbreaks were registered. Of them, 257 were investigated. Thirty-eight per cent of the reported outbreaks were laboratory confirmed. While report stressed on initiation of a multi-sectoral action plan, the Health Department on Friday sought to absolve itself of all the shortcomings and shifted the blame to other departments.
"The Health Department comes into picture when an outbreak occurs. But real job of prevention lies with other departments like Rural Development which are responsible for provisioning safe drinking water and sanitation facilities," both Health Minister Rout and Secretary PK Mohapatra said.