Boost immunisation, integrated disease surveillance: Experts

Representative image for vaccination. Photo: LookerStudio / Shutterstock

New Delhi: Leading healthcare experts have stressed upon the need to strengthen national health programmes such as around key immunisation and boost the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP).in view of the alarming rise in infectious diseases like tomato flu, ebola and measles amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,

The IDSP is a decentralised, state-based surveillance programme in the country. It is intended to detect early warning signals of impending outbreaks and help initiate an effective response in a timely manner.

"Re-emerging infections like measles, drug-resistant tuberculosis are major public health challenges in the current time in India. During the pandemic, existing national health programmes suffered a lot due to diversion of resources and changing priorities," Dr. Harshal R Salve, Professor at Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, told IANS.

"It is high time that we should focus on strengthening national health programmes such as in immunisation, tuberculosis, IDSP with more resources, infrastructure development and capacity building with renewed political will," Salve emphasised.

Repeated re-emergence of new and varied infection-causing organisms has posed a danger to the population, especially taking into consideration the recent pandemic.

Other illnesses especially caused by viruses like ebola, measles and more recently tomato flu are spreading in the world. Most of these infections are a result of interaction between humans and wildlife.

"Moreover, most of these infections are caused by viruses which are known to mutate easily and develop a form in which they are able to escape the immune system of the body. The continuous mutation and changes in its genetic codes poses challenges in developing effective curable medicines or vaccines," said Dr Anurag Aggarwal, Consultant-Internal Medicine, Marengo QRG Hospital, Faridabad.

According to Dr Neha Rastogi, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, "we are now witnessing a shadow of pandemic".

"Antimicrobial resistant superbugs/bacteria have created a major super pandemic owing to the rampant usage of antimicrobials in the current scenario. With an ongoing transmission of these multidrug-resistant pathogens, it is imperative to combat this silent pandemic," Dr Rastogi told IANS.

With a complex interplay of the immune system and changed environmental settings, newer viruses and their ever-evolving variants are rising.

Climate and environmental change and rapid urbanisation with increased global movements due to enhanced easy connectivity, will increase risk of such bugs in coming decades.

"Climate change, in particular, may alter the range of global pathogens, allowing infections, particularly vector-borne infections, to spread over new terrains," according to Dr. Ravindra Gupta, Head of Department, Internal Medicine, C.K. Birla Hospital, Gurugram.

Changes in environment and changes in land use patterns have led to increased contact between animals and humans.

As a result, viruses in animals are getting transmitted to humans and thus creating problems for humanity.

"Global warming, by itself, is another important cause for the emergence of new viruses. There is a strong need to strengthen disease surveillance and to understand the biological factors for the growth of vectors like mosquitos, ants, etc and to take appropriate measures to control them," Dr Gupta noted.

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