Chidambaram said CCEA had cleared the proposal to establish 10 regional labs, 30 state level labs and another 120 labs in medical colleges

The government has approved two Health Ministry proposals for setting up a network of laboratories for managing epidemics and natural calamities in the country, and research units in 80 government medical colleges.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has cleared the proposal to establish 10 regional labs, 30 state level labs and another 120 labs in medical colleges in the country to manage epidemics and natural calamities.

“The initiative 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,” he said.

The move will enable smooth data flow from epidemic sites, and create an efficient knowledge management network for policy interventions through quick deployment of resources, introduction of preventive strategies and new vaccines, among others.

The proposal involves a total expenditure of Rs 646.83 crore, of which the Centre will spend Rs 485 crore, the remaining amount being the states’ contribution to set up the laboratories.

The Centre will bear the full expenditure on regional labs, while that on state labs will be shared between central and state governments in the ratio of 75:25 in plains and 90:10 in north-eastern and hill states, including Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir.

Chidambaram said the CCEA cleared another proposal for establishing and strengthening multi-disciplinary research units in government medical colleges during the 12th Plan.

The project, involving a total expenditure of Rs 503.85 crore, will bridge the infrastructure gap inhibiting health research in government medical colleges, with a view to improve the health status of the population by creating evidence-based application of diagnostic procedures, processes and methods.

He said there was an urgent need to provide assistance to medical colleges to promote quality medical research in the country as most of them have confined their mandate to routine patient care and are not pursuing newer methods of investigation for understanding the pathological diagnosis, treatment and management practice.

The proposal includes setting up 35 such units in this year and another 45 in medical colleges during 2014-15.