In a first, the Maharashtra government has formed a special technical committee to exclusively look at tackling and preventing the spread of communicable diseases. While the group, created by a government resolution (GR) last month, has taken up H1N1 as its primary challenge, it will also look at vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue.
The Maharashtra Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control Technical Committee (MCDPCTC), under the ministry of health, has been entrusted with the responsibility of drafting guidelines, standard operating procedures (SOP) and making recommendations for various communicable disease ranging from H1N1 to tuberculosis.
“The committee has representatives from both public health sector as well as the private,” said a state health officer. The SOP and recommendations prepared by the technical committee will be made available to all healthcare institutions and providers across the state. The MCDPCTC comprises 20 medical experts from different specialities - from paediatric health to medicine - including experts from National Virology Lab (NIV) in Pune and Haffkine Institute in Parel.
The committee has had three meeting, so far, the latest being in Pune on May 5 in the presence of health minister Deepak Sawant. It was decided that swine flu will be given top priority. “Our mandate is to give recommendations to the government on major communicable diseases in the state. They ought to be appropriate and implementable so that they do not remain on paper,” said Dr Subhash Salunke, chairman, MCDPCTC, and senior advisor, Public Health Foundation India (PFHI).
Among the key recommendations that have been drawn up by the committee for H1N1 is vaccination and voluntarily awareness campaigns.
“We will focus on the trivalent vaccine for the H1N1, especially among the vulnerable population that includes diabetics and people suffering from hypertension, the elderly, children suffering from asthma, women in third semester of pregnancy among others. The vaccination will reduce the mortality in this population and even otherwise. By June, a voluntarily campaign will also be taken up across the state because awareness is the most important tool for prevention of communicable diseases,” Dr Salinkhe added.