The Public Health Department of the government the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has launched an online information data base connecting all the blocks and government hospitals in the State on a daily basis to prevent outbreak of epidemics.
At present, the Office of the Deputy Director of Health in each district is monitoring the disease status on a day to day basis and keeps passing on the data to the Public Health Directorate the next morning or at an convenient time later.
The new Emergency Disease Surveillance System will help officials keep greater track of the pattern, taking less chances on the alertness of the lower level officials.
Rattled by the outbreak of chikungunya last year, the Public Health Department improved surveillance mechanism to be free of the disease, to a great extent, this year. Even if sporadic cases were reported in a couple of border districts like Kanniyakumari and Theni basically due to migration of workers from Kerala, the Government, has by and large, been successful in preventing any significant outbreak.
The Government was keen on developing an online data basis that could be monitored round the clock from the Public Health Department headquarters in Chennai to take immediate steps to prevent diseases spread by virus or bacteria from taking epidemic proportions, said P Padmanbabhan, director, Public Health.
In spite of the high level of preparedness, the Public Health System in Ramanathapuram district struggled hard for some time to contain the spread of leptospirosis in a few villages in the drought prone region leading to panic in many parts of the region.
The new system in place will set in motion a comprehensive, daily surveillance of all districts in the State, primarily focussing on the communicable diseases.
However, the system will not be confined to monitoring diseases like chikungunya, dengue, malaria, or leptospirosis, it will also register the incidence of unnaturally high fever or any other infection.
As chikunguya resurfaced in the state after three decades, the government doctors have been asked to closely examine similar symptoms to identify possible new infections as well.
According to the new system, health staff in 385 block-level PHCs and 270 government hospitals have been given a separate ID and password to upload data from the outpatient as well as the inpatient departments and provide details of the diagnosis as well.
The software allows public health professionals to instantly analyze the data base. Glancing through the data base, the Government will be able to know any outbreak of infectious disease immediately. It will also felicitate the department to zero in on trouble spots and despatch medical supplies to prevent any possible outbreak.
For the purpose, the Government has sanctioned computers and broadband connections to all the constituent health centres.
As the private sector covered a huge chunk of population, the Government has plans to link the data base of the private hospitals in the second phase to make the system foolproof and thus enable it to prevent any large scale outbreak.