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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) today launched diagnostic kits to detect neglected infectious diseases in livestock.
The kits have been developed by ICMR's Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) in collaboration with Zydus Cadila, a global pharmaceutical company.
These kits will help in detecting infections in the animal population as they are often the hosts or reservoirs, spreading the infection to humans who come in close contact with them.
This public-private partnership will open newer avenues for many more indigenous diagnostics for public health benefits, Secretary, Department of Health Research and DG-ICMR, Soumya Swaminathan said.
These technologies will enable the detection of outbreaks of dangerous and life-threatening diseases and also give a boost to the government's 'Make in India' efforts, she said.
"While tackling the neglected infectious diseases, timely diagnosis and treatment is critical. To reach the ultimate goal of elimination of these neglected diseases, it is important to maintain a constant vigilance through appropriate diagnosis, robust surveillance, monitoring and reporting mechanisms," Swaminathan said.
These kits will be manufactured and marketed by Zydus Diagnostics, a division of Cadila Healthcare based in Ahmedabad.
They provide results within 2.5 to 3 hours and are both highly sensitive and specific. They will be available for use in public health laboratories and hospitals across India and other countries.
"This 'Make in India' initiative is dedicated to the well-being of our people, who are at high-risk, particularly in distant, remote areas of the country. This collaboration makes us self-reliant in detecting and starting early treatment so that precious lives can be saved," said Pankaj Patel, Chairman, Zydus Group.
According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, India witnessed 1,916 cases of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) leading to 226 deaths this year.
The virus is transmitted through more than 15 species of Culex mosquitoes, predominantly found in rural and semi-urban settings, where humans live in close proximity to these hosts.
"Timely detection of JE is a much needed public health intervention, as one in four cases can prove fatal. The test is user-friendly and the detection is possible within four hours," Swaminathan said.
Other such fairly common vector-borne infectious diseases are Kyasanur Forest and Chandipura Virus diseases, which have been posing a threat to public health with periodic life- threatening outbreaks, she added.