DMPQ-“Corona Virus Pandemic has created the need for effective disease Surveillance System.” Discuss.

A major cholera outbreak in Delhi in 1988 and the Surat plague outbreak of 1994, nudged the Government of India to launch the National Surveillance Programme for Communicable Diseases in 1997. However, this initiative remained rudimentary till, in wake of the SARS outbreak, in 2004, India launched the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP).

The focus under the IDSP was to increase government funding for disease surveillance, strengthen laboratory capacity, train the health workforce and have at least one trained epidemiologist in every district of India. With that, between 2004 and 2019, nearly every passing year, more outbreaks were detected and investigated than the previous year.

When COVID-19 pandemic struck, India could rapidly deploy the teams of epidemiologists and public health experts to respond to and guide the response, coordinate the contact tracing and rapidly scale up testing capacity. The disease surveillance system and health data recording and reporting systems are key tools in epidemiology.

There are now established protocols — at the national level — for the three key aspects of a potential pandemic: infection control, treatment and vaccination. When a contagion hits, the world now understands what can and cannot be controlled within each geographic region’s context. It is these lessons from the coronavirus pandemic that must inform future outbreaks.

A review of the IDSP by joint monitoring mission in 2015, conducted jointly by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Government of India and World Health Organization India had made a few concrete recommendations to strengthen disease surveillance systems. The government resources allocated to preventive and promotive health services and disease surveillance need to be increased by the Union and State governments. The workforce in the primary health-care system in both rural and urban areas needs to be retrained in disease surveillance and public health actions.

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