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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
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Chasing the Virus: not only difficult but impossible. Are We going to hit a dead end? – managing epidemics


 Technical Adviser, The Maharashtra State Anti TB Association, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission16-Aug-2020
Date of Decision26-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance27-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Yatin Dholakia,
2B Saurabh, 24E Sarojini Road, Santacruz West, Mumbai - 400 054, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_458_20



How to cite this URL:
Dholakia Y. Chasing the Virus: not only difficult but impossible. Are We going to hit a dead end? – managing epidemics. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2021 Sep 20]. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=310601



Dear Sir,

Banerjee,[1] in his editorial, has written about the COVID-19 pandemic and the current strategies to contain the same. The adverse consequences of this full-blown pandemic cannot be ignored. Banerjee has very aptly detailed the way forward to tackle this pandemic. However, this pandemic has raised significant public health issues with respect to infectious diseases, in general. A new normal is in evolution. We need to look at the challenges and opportunities in managing the epidemics – old and recent – and to prepare for new emerging ones.

Challenges in managing infectious diseases, both those existing and new emerging ones, especially of the magnitude of pandemics, overwhelm the public health. Some of the epidemics that deserve mention are tuberculosis,[2],[3] HIV/AIDS,[4],[5] and malaria,[6] which till today are of major concern. HIV/AIDS, the newer infectious disease, despite having no curative or preventive intervention other than behavioral change and lifelong antiretroviral treatment, has been managed well. Leprosy, although officially eliminated, too has witnessed this over time.[7],[8]

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that, despite technological and pharmaceutical advances, our public health systems are not yet strong enough to bear the burden. Our responses to infectious diseases are a cycle of panic–neglect–panic–neglect.[4],[9] There are no sustained and focused efforts to maintain the gains made in controlling the disease or improving the public health interventions. Adequate funding for the interventions and ongoing research is needed to keep existing diseases under check and prevent new emerging diseases.

To have a robust pandemic response which is better coordinated in future health crises, it will be necessary to focus on areas of surveillance, prevention, and intervention. There is a need to improve the coordination and interconnection between various stakeholders, such as healthcare providers and public health systems. Such a system can only be possible if we create a cadre under a proposed Indian Medical Services (IMS), which has many proponents across the medical fraternity. The mandate that IMS can pursue could include developing surveillance systems for various diseases to study transmission of pathogens; to aid research, development, and support in areas of prevention; to train local health personnel; to encourage community awareness to risks of propagation of diseases; and to sensitize and train policymakers, politicians, and healthcare providers for better preparedness to handle such pandemics.[10] This, however, will also involve strong political will, enhanced funding, and strengthening the health sector at grass roots.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Banerjee A. Chasing the virus: Not only difficult but impossible. Are we going to hit a dead end? Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2020;13:425-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
2.
Sakamoto H, Lee S, Ishizuka A, Hinoshita E, Hori H, Ishibashi N, et al. Challenges and opportunities for eliminating tuberculosis-Leveraging political momentum of the UN high-level meeting on tuberculosis. BMC Public Health 2019;19:76.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Dholakia Y, Mistry N. Challenges and opportunities for programmatic management of drug resistant TB in India. SM Trop Med J 2018;3:1017.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Valdiserri RO, Holtgrave DR. Responding to Pandemics: What We've Learned from HIV/AIDS. AIDS Behav 2020;24:1980-2.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Bhattacharya J. HIV prevention & treatment strategies – Current challenges & future prospects. Ind J Med Res 2018;148:671-4.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Shahandeh K, Basseri HR. Challenges and the path forward on malaria elimination intervention: A systematic review. Iran J Public Health 2019;48:1004-13.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Shetty VP. Challenges facing the control of leprosy in the Indian context. Ann Acad Med Singap 2010;39:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Rao PN, Suneetha S. Current situation of leprosy in India and its future implications. Indian Dermatol Online J 2018;9:83-9.  Back to cited text no. 8
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
9.
Greenberger M. Better prepare than react: Reordering public health priorities 100 years after the Spanish flu epidemic. Am J Public Health 2018;108:1465-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Burdet C, Guégan JF, Duval X, Le Tyrant M, Bergeron H, Manuguerra JC, et al. Need for integrative thinking to fight against emerging infectious diseases. Proceedings of the 5th Seminar on Emerging Infectious Diseases, March 22, 2016-Current trends and proposals. Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique 2018;66:81-90.  Back to cited text no. 10
    




 

 
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