NIH to extend health laboratory network to provincial headquarters

ISLAMABAD: National Institute of Health (NIH) will extend its public health laboratory network to provincial headquarters for early diagnosis and management of the diseases.

According to an official of NIH, a real time Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response is being designed and shortly it will be piloted in selected districts of all the provinces.

He added a training is being given to the federal and provincial health staff to act as rapid response teams to tackle the outbreaks and epidemics.

He said that public health laboratories division, NIH was providing diagnostic facilities for epidemic-prone diseases to the citizens.

He said that it also supports to strengthen laboratory diagnosis for early detection of cases, surveillance and infection control measures in health care facilities.

He said that a ‘health hub’ is being operationalized at NIH while Zoonotic and Entomology reference lab capacities are being enhanced to detect, prevent and response other vector borne and zoonotic diseases in collaboration with animal health and environment professionals.

The official said that the NIH has established well equipped Disease Surveillance and Response Units (DSRUs) in Director General Health offices at all provinces, AJK, G-B and FATA.

He added trained workforce along with trainees is deployed at all DSRUs to conduct surveillance, response and outbreak investigations.

He said that all DSRUs are involved in response to the prevalent diseases like chikungunya and dengue. Being focal point, a comprehensive five years roadmap has been developed in consultation with provinces to strengthen the public health and animal health system of the country.

He said that Pakistan was facing double burden of communicable as well as non-communicable diseases due to epidemiological transition.

On the communicable disease front, various geographical areas of the country continue to encounter outbreaks resulting in significant burden on the national healthcare delivery system in terms of morbidity as well as mortality.

He said that the NIH under the control of Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination is involved in detection, prevention and response to public health events of national and international concern and providing technical and logistic support to the provinces for over four decades.

He said that NIH’s Field Epidemiology and Diseases Surveillance Division is vigilant to infectious diseases distribution, trends and accordingly issues alerts, guidelines and advisories as and when required in addition to compiling the data of epidemic-prone diseases from all over the country.