To function with technical guidance and support of the WHO
The Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) is all set to start a public health institute and centre for disease control in Bangalore in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) by the last week of July.
This is in tune with the WHO’s focus on controlling communicable diseases, and the programme will be carried out in coordination with the Bangalore Healthy City Initiative and Tri-Sector Preventive Health Care Foundation.
RGUHS Vice-Chancellor K.S. Sriprakash told The Hindu that the academic and research institute will focus on training health professionals in disease control and research on public health.
“Initially, we will start courses in Masters in Public Health and Diploma in Public Health. Dealing with communicable diseases needs strong vector control, surveillance systems, community mobilisation, involvement and capacity building. Strengthening of health systems and better use of existing tools are crucial to prevent, control and eliminate these diseases. The new institute would look at all these factors,” Dr. Sriprakash said.
The Vice-Chancellor, who, with a team of doctors from Bangalore, attended a meeting during the 66th World Health Assembly at Palais Des Nations in Geneva on May 22, had detailed discussions with WHO officials on the new institute. “As part of the institute, a Central Research Laboratory focussing on public health will be set up. WHO consultants will visit Bangalore in the last week of July to inaugurate the institute,” he said.
“There has been significant progress in delivering improved public health services to the people. But the much-needed ‘right to health and social accountability’ is still to be implemented and we are planning to do this with technical guidance from the WHO. For this, it is important to train professionals in public health in knowledge, skills and attitude apart from social accountability and community orientation,” he said.
In the long-term, the Department of Public Health at RGUHS will seek internships at the WHO as part of the programme of leadership training in public health, he said.
H. Paramesh, a paediatric pulmonologist, who attended the Geneva meeting, said the focus should be on preventive health, especially with regard to child health. “With only seven per cent of the health budget focussed on children’s health, greater emphasis is needed on preventive healthcare, instead of curative services,” he said. He stressed the need to recognise the socio-economic, cultural and environmental issues underlying child ill-health and the importance of focussing on these issues in public health strategies and services.
“Children and women in the urban slums are the most affected by environmental pollution,” Dr. Paramesh added.