BHUBANESWAR: Odisha is set to pilot the ambitious ‘One Health’ programme that aims to tackle zoonotic diseases like anthrax, scrub typhus, rabies and swine flu that spread from animals to humans. It is one of the four states where the WHO programme will be launched. Odisha has been selected for the rising burden of such diseases in the state. There has been a significant rise in anthrax and scrub typhus cases in recent times.
As per a study by the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), 14 districts in the state have experienced outbreaks of human anthrax with 1,208 cases and 436 deaths in the last 15 years. Among the affected districts, Koraput has more than 300 human anthrax cases including 10 deaths over the past six years. Similarly, scrub typhus has assumed alarming proportion as eight persons have reportedly died and over 2,800 tested positive so far this year.
As part of the new programme, a framework will be prepared with the state-level resource allocation and policy ecosystem on early prediction, detection, and diagnosis of zoonotic diseases through increased quality, availability, and utility of data evidence. One Health is an integrated and unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimise the health of people, animals and ecosystems. The Health and Family Welfare Department has already initiated the process to launch the programme in the state.
Director of Public Health Dr Niranjan Mishra said that given the emergence of zoonotic diseases, health matters are now interrelated with each other and it is difficult to treat human, animal or wildlife health in isolation.
“Health, food, water and environment have sector-specific concerns. The collaboration across sectors and disciplines can only contribute to protect health, address health challenges like infectious diseases, antimicrobial resistance and food safety besides promoting good health and maintaining ecosystems,” he said.
Under the programme, public health laboratories will be integrated with a focus on strengthening communication and lab testing capacities around zoonotic diseases, developing a communication strategy across sectors with an emphasis on livestock and animal health-related issues. Mapping of district-wise data to ascertain the vulnerability will also be conducted.
As the emerging diseases, Dr Mishra said, cannot be managed by the Health department only, as proposed by WHO other wings like veterinary, agriculture and wildlife will be involved in the management of the zoonotic diseases. A stakeholders meeting will soon be convened to prepare a district-level action plan, he said.