Sector Wide Approach to Strengthening Health ( SWASTH )

Bihar Technical Assistance Support Team (BTAST)
Government of Bihar initiative supported by Department for International Development, UK


Manual needed to help cope with public health emergencies

Patna: To cope with public health emergencies arising out of repeated outbreaks of diseases like Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)/JE in Bihar, a strategy manual for taking urgent actions to control the situation as well as prevent future outbreaks is needed. This was the unanimous view of the speakers at the State Level Consultation Workshop on Manual for Public Health Response in the Event of Disease Outbreaks in Bihar, held in Patna on 2nd December, 2015.

The workshop was attended by representatives from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) – Patna, Bihar Technical Assistant Support Team (BTAST), IPE Global, Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI), Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), State RMNCH+A Unit (SRU), World Health Organization (WHO), and government stakeholders.

Elaborating on the scope of the proposed manual, Dr Sumit Bansal, Disease Control Expert, BTAST, said, "The strategy manual would assist and guide the government staff to take appropriate and timely action, consistently, and scientifically, improve the quality of investigations and response, and strengthen the disease outbreak control capabilities of the government machinery." He also talked about diseases requiring investigations, sources of information to detect outbreak, levels of response to different triggers, disease surveillance summary, disease outbreak investigations, evaluation of outbreak management including, etc.

“Any response can be more effective and efficient only when there is coordination in approaches of state health officials, public health experts and medical professionals,” said Dr Dinesh Agarwal, Policy Lead, Health & Disease Control, and IPE Global. He not only, highlighted the need for coordinated effort from the state to the block level, but also underlined the importance of effective communication for prevention and management of such disease outbreaks.

Dr G K Singh, Director, AIIMS-Patna, suggested that clinicians should use their understanding of epidemiology in their practice. He emphasised on the importance of collecting evidence, which he said should be the basis for formulating policy.

The participants also discussed the need to have a communication plan for dissemination of the manual. Apart from disseminating it at the state and the district level to public and private healthcare institutions, they stressed on the need to share it with the Department for Animal Husbandry, and the Public Health Engineering Department. Besides this, there was a call to set up WhatsApp and E-mail groups of experts to share information related to disease outbreak.

Agreeing that dissemination is required to derive optimum benefits from the manual for setting up an effective system to prevent and manage the outbreaks, Prakash Kumar, Team Leader, BTAST, said that they would support the Government of Bihar and medical colleges in dissemination of the manual from the state to the block level. He also shared that BTAST has plans to support the State Health Society, Bihar, for printing of the manual both in English and Hindi languages.