Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

In news: National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NCDC and its formation

Mains level: Institutional failures in NCDC

India’s premier organisation mandated to collect data about diseases, the NCDC is failing in its task as the spread of COVID-19 continues unabated.

Practice question for mains:

Q. Health infrastructure in India is hardly capable of handling any pandemic. Critically comment.

About the National Centre for Disease Control

  • The NCDC carries out nationwide disease surveillance through its Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
  • It is a vertical programme under Directorate General of Health Services.

Its formation

  • This programme has been present in the country in different avatars since 1997 when the National Surveillance Programme for Communicable Diseases was set up.
  • This was upscaled to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project in 2004, with assistance from the World Bank, to address the demands of the WHO’s International Health Regulations, 2005.
  • Under this, each country had to assess public health emergencies of international concern within 48 hours and report them to WHO within the next 24 hours.
  • It was then included in the 12th Plan (2012-17) under the Union Health Ministry and renamed IDSP.

Mandate of the NCDC

To aid the process of an investigation, NCDC has put down 10 steps that need to be followed for each outbreak:

  • Determine the existence of an outbreak
  • Confirm the diagnosis
  • Define a case
  • Search for cases
  • Generate hypothesis using descriptive findings
  • Test hypothesis with the analytical study
  • Draw conclusions
  • Compare hypothesis with established facts
  • Communication of findings
  • Execute preventive measures

Why did NCDC fail?

  • IDSP’s manual says weekly and monthly updates are mandatory for each State and UTs even if no outbreaks are reported.
  • But this has never been observed to date.
  • There is an overlap between the diseases being followed by IDSP and other agencies like the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme
  • The fact that IDSP does not collect mortality data was also a concern. Moreover, the IDSP was not investigating zoonotic diseases.

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