WHO Involvement in Disease Surveillance in India
The NSPCD was initiated in 1998 as a pilot project with WHO supporting the initial 5 districts. It has subsequently expanded to 101 districts. The main objective of this programme is to:
Detect outbreaks and respond immediately
National Institute for Communicable Diseases is the coordinating agency for the NSPCD. WHO’s involvement has been in term of providing technical assistance to NICD to analyse the data, supervise the districts and help in outbreak investigations. An epidemiologist and a microbiologist have been placed in NICD and they work with the NICD staff in implementing this programme.
Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP)
The Government of India is building on the experiences of the NSPCD and is developing an Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme. WHO’s inputs into this has been in the development of an Operations Manual and also developing the Training strategy. WHO has also provided technical feedback on the PIP which is to be submitted to the World Bank.
Strengthening Disease Surveillance in Orissa and Gujarat
Following the disasters in Orissa (1999) and Gujarat (2001), WHO was involved in relief and rehabilitation in these two states. As a part of this package, WHO developed the disease surveillance programmes in these states.
Realising the limited capacity of the health staff in field epidemiology, the WHO has been investing in technical assistance to National institutions so that they can train doctors in Field Epidemiology. 2 such courses are currently being supported by WHO – the 3 month FETP at NICD and the 2 year FETP at NIE. Other than this, the WHO supports various short course training programmes.
IT in surveillance
Geographical Information System (GIS)
WHO has been in the forefront of introducing IT to surveillance in India. In Maharashtra, WHO has been supporting the use of GIS in surveillance in 13 districts. This involved customising the WHO software – HealthMapper for the needs of Maharashtra and conducting training programme for the staff of these 13 districts. In these districts, GIS is being used as a regular tool for mapping outbreaks.
Computerization of the surveillance system
WHO is in the process of computerising the surveillance system in the states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Computers have been provided to the districts and the relevant staff will be trained in computer applications vis-à-vis surveillance. This will result in faster transmission of information in both directions and prompt action in the management of outbreaks.
Research in surveillance
WHO is supporting 2 Operations research initiatives on the involvement medical colleges and private practitioners in public health surveillance. Lessons learnt from these ORs will support the IDSP.