National consultation calls for strengthening of health system to address vector-borne diseases

WHO India

A national consultation was organized by WHO Country office for India and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) on 4 April 2014 to address the threat posed by vector-borne diseases, the theme of World Health Day 2014.

This year the World Health Day aims at raising awareness about the threat posed by insect vectors and the bacteria, viruses, and parasites they carry, collectively known as vector-borne diseases (VBDs);and to motivate families and communities to protect themselves through simple measures.

Present at the consultation were Mr Lov Verma, Secretary, Health, MoHFW; Dr V.M. Katoch, Secretary, Health Research; Mr. Navtej Sarna, Special Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Dr.S.K Kothari, Special Director General, DGHS, Dr A.C. Dhariwal, Director National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP); Mr Anshu Prakash, Joint Secretary, MoHFW and Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India, among other stakeholders.

Speaking at the national consultation, Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India said, “The World Health Day campaign, ‘small bite: big threat’, brings renewed focus on sustainable control, elimination and eradication of VBDs.”

“It is only through strengthening of health systems with effective stewardship, enhanced collaboration across agencies, sectors, and all levels of government, and implementation of regulatory mechanisms that the challenge of vector-borne diseases in India can be addressed,” she added.

The panel discussion at the consultation deliberated on India’s strategy for achieving pre-elimination status of malaria. In addition, the issue of dengue as a major public health problem was also discussed, including measures such as behaviour change communication and effective intersectoral coordination that India should undertake to curb the emergence of dengue. Further, the challenges India faces for achieving kala-azar elimination by 2015 were discussed.

The important issue of civil society contribution to community empowerment in order to achieve universal health coverage for VBDs was also addressed. Participants shared lessons learnt by NGOs working in partnership with the public health sector, particularly in reaching the hard-to-reach populations.

Starting from 7 April, state-level consultations will also be held at Chennai, Lucknow, Kolktata and Patna.