Separate authority for disease surveillance

To be based on United States model The ongoing Rs. 400-crore Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme under the ICMR will be merged with the proposed national authority.

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Union Government will shortly set up a separate authority for disease surveillance on the lines of the U.S.-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor and check the prevalence of communicable, non-communicable and pollution-related diseases in the country.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss announced this after presenting the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) Awards for 2002-03 here on Tuesday. The ongoing Rs. 400-crore Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme under the ICMR would be merged with the proposed national authority.

"We want the ICMR to concentrate fully on research. The new authority will take over the ICMR's present role of disease surveillance," the Minister said. The national authority for disease surveillance will monitor communicable, non-communicable, pollution and road traffic accident-related diseases. Road accident is emerging as one of the major killers. To be implemented in nine States in the first phase, the authority will cover the entire country in the next three years.

Calling upon researchers to concentrate more on inventing preventive vaccines to deal with HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, Mr. Ramadoss said chicken pox had been eliminated over the years and polio was on its way out.

Lauding Indian scientists for the progress made in stem cell research, the Minister said the Government had decided to permit therapeutic cloning and promote regenerative medicine but opposed reproductive cloning due to the doubtful nature of its safety and ethical acceptability. The ICMR had prepared draft guidelines for stem cell research and its application and these would subsequently be converted into laws.

K.K. Talwar, director, Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, got the Basanti Devi Amir Chand Prize for 2003. The other awardees include: Gigi Jasmine Ebenezer, head, Department of Histopathology and Experimental Pathology, Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre at Vellore; P. Kaliraj, Department of Biotechnology, Alagappa College of Technology, Chennai; C. Panneerselvam, Department of Medical Biochemistry, Madras University and; G. Bhanuprakash Reddy, National Institute of Nutrition, Jamia-Osmania in Hyderabad. Prof. Asis Datta and A. Surolio shared the Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Centenary Award for Excellence in Biomedical Research.

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