Tamil Nadu

‘Lessons from COVID-19 will help handle any disease’

T.S. Selvavinayagam  

More than 11 months since precautionary measures against COVID-19 took off in the State, the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine continues to be on guard. Working on the field, its personnel have been at the forefront of COVID-19 prevention and control strategies, even as they continue to prepare for future challenges.

COVID-19 may have brought the State’s public health into focus, but it has provided plenty of knowledge that will help in handling any pandemic, says T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

“COVID-19 has definitely led to an improvement to the public health response. Investment in human resources has been one of the advantages. The knowledge gained will be an advantage in handling and responding to any communicable disease, including H1N1. It has helped in our health system approach, and with this experience, we can handle any pandemic. We have strong infrastructure and trained manpower who can multi-task,” he said.

“While the preparatory works for the COVID-19 vaccine are under way, the new variant of the novel coronavirus identified in the United Kingdom has come as a challenge. We can handle it with our experience. The public need to follow physical distancing, wear masks, wash hands, and avoid crowds,” Dr. Selvavinayagam said.

As the State continues to lift restrictions, institutions should adhere to the Standard Operating Procedure, he said. “We have told institutions to identify and appoint a health inspector to monitor compliance with the SOP. They could be retired personnel who could advise on the dos and don’ts,” he said.

As for strategies in the coming months, he said there would be no major changes. Fever clinics and sentinel screening would continue. Saturation testing would be activated wherever required. The findings of the sero surveillance, conducted in 888 clusters in the State would be published shortly, and a second survey would follow, he said. “The laboratory investigations were completed, and data is being analysed. This survey will have district-wise results so that district prevalence will be known,” he said.

Mini clinics

Amid the pandemic, one of the initiatives rolled out by the State government is Amma Mini Clinics. He said the government had planned 2,000 clinics, of which 200 would be in Chennai. “Locations of the clinics have been planned based on six criteria that includes inaccessible areas, where the nearest health facility is an hour’s travel away. This includes urban slums. In the first phase, we are setting up 600 clinics. We will reach 600 to 700 clinics in 15 days,” he said.

On the recruitment of manpower, he said the required human resources had been sanctioned. “We will be recruiting through the Medical Services Recruitment Board. For now, we are deputing our doctors. We will be recruiting staff nurses and other health workers on an outsourcing basis,” he added.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 9:28:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/lessons-from-covid-19-will-help-handle-any-disease/article33414176.ece

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