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Monday, 1 July 2013

DHR gets final nod to set up 160 network laboratories for managing epidemics & natural calamities

The Department of Health Research (DHR) has received the final clearance for its proposal to establish a network of laboratories across the country for managing epidemics and natural calamities at an estimated cost of Rs. 646.83 crore.
According to sources, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has cleared the proposal of the DHR to set up 10 regional labs, 30 state level labs and 120 medical college level labs under the scheme of 'establishment of a network of laboratories for managing epidemics and natural calamities' during the 12th Five Year Plan.
The regional labs will be equipped with state of the art BSL-3 facilities and the state level labs will have BSL-2 facilities. The lowest tier labs at the medical colleges will be equipped with the appropriate infrastructure to carry out serology for viruses (ELISA based diagnosis).
In case of any outbreak or epidemic, these medical college level labs will carry out the initial diagnosis and screening at the most peripheral areas and nearest to the site of outbreak. Each medical college lab will cover a cluster of three to four districts. While the medical college labs will be expected to identify all listed common viruses, the viruses/agents which cannot be identified by these labs will be referred to the state/regional labs for identification and/or characterization.
All the laboratories will work under the overall guidance of apex institutions like NIV, NCDC through appropriate linkages and networking. The States/UTs which do not presently have any government medical college will be linked with the nearby state’s laboratories.
At present, only the national apex institutes like NCDC, New Delhi and NIV, Pune are mandated to undertake the investigations that results in heavy burden affecting their real referral role. The resultant delay in diagnosis and detection and inadequate or incomplete data during the outbreaks significantly impact the response time for interventions.
The major initiative taken by the government for establishment of 3-tier network of laboratories across the country will greatly help in building capacity for handling viral diseases in the country in terms of early and timely diagnosis, development of tools to predict viral disease outbreaks beforehand, continuous monitoring and surveillance of existing as well as new viral strains and handling viruses with a potential to be used as agents of bio-terrorism. This would also help in smooth data flow from across the sites of epidemics, creation of efficient knowledge management network for policy interventions like quick deployment of resources and measures like introduction of preventive strategies, new vaccines, etc.


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