Maharashtra to start first two-year Masters course on epidemics

Updated: 19 September, 2020 07:54 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Wardha's Datta Meghe Institute will start India's first Masters in Public Health, with specialisation in Epidemic Surveillance and Management

Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences, Wardha
Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences, Wardha

India's first Masters in Public Health course with the specialisation in 'Epidemic Management and Surveillance' will start in Maharashtra. Doctors say the two-year course will help understand the prevalence, severity and prevention of any infectious disease. The Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences in Wardha will be the first to start the postgraduate study.

Dr Vedprakash Mishra, the national head of the Academic Programme (Indian Programme), UNESCO chair in Bioethics (Haifa), said the study will also be launched across the country in accordance with the governing provisions in the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, and the enabling provision in the governing regulation to handle pandemic, like COVID-19, in future.

The Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (DMIMS), Wardha, will start the Masters in Public Health Postgraduate Course this academic year. The study would give a generation of trained public health practitioners with specialised knowledge in 'Epidemic Management and Surveillance', said doctors.

Will give trained specialists

Dr Vedprakash Mishra, national head, Academic Programme (UNESCO)
Dr Vedprakash Mishra, national head, Academic Programme (UNESCO)

Dr Mishra, who had formulated the structure for DMIMS, said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the limitations of manpower, especially in regards to expertise for the management of the epidemic. The limitations are both in terms of required numbers and the level of expertise. And, one of the important lessons we took from this is that there is a need for venture for training and orientation of a generation of trained epidemics specialists.

"It is for this reason I had proposed to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to incorporate an entry into the Postgraduate Regulation on Medical Education to include an 'MD Course in Epidemic Management and Surveillance'. Moreover, there is a need for structuring of the operational details in regards to Epidemic Management in the Undergraduate Medical Education Curriculum in the form of stipulated competencies."

Help in better management

Dr Wiqar ShaikhDr Wiqar Shaikh

Dr Wiqar Shaikh, a senior allergy and asthma specialist, agreed that "epidemiology is an extremely important area of medical science and the understanding of this subject is essential for not only the doctors, but also for the medical students. It is essential to understand the prevalence, severity and prevention of any infectious disease. This helps in better management of patients."

"Pandemic management was never a part of the medical curriculum, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It is, therefore, imperative that both epidemiology and pandemic management are taught to medical students," he added.

Must get MCI recognition

Dr Shaikh said the epidemiology and pandemic management study must be approved as a recognised qualification by the Medical Council of India. "This will not only help in the better management of future pandemics or epidemics, but also produce teachers and researchers on the crucial subjects."

BMC medical staff conduct an antigen test at a civic clinic at Gautam Nagar, Dadar, on Monday. PIC/ASHISH RAJE
BMC medical staff conduct an antigen test at a civic clinic at Gautam Nagar, Dadar, on Monday. PIC/ASHISH RAJE

Dr Ketan Vagholkar, the professor of surgery at DY Patil Medical College, said, "The basic concept of epidemic management has always been an integral part of undergraduate study." He added that now, both the UG and PG courses must have subjects on biologically engineered organisms. "COVID-19 appears to be genetically engineered Zoonotic disease. The new curriculum should give importance to the possible diseases caused by bioengineered viruses. And the need of the hour is to train our young medical brains to identify and control an outbreak of such a massive scale. It will also help in much-needed Research & Development."

Dr Ketan R Vagholkar
Dr Ketan R Vagholkar

Much-needed for autopsies

Speaking in the context of the requirement of autopsies in case of COVID-19 patients, Dr Mishra said the masters course will be very helpful in ascertaining the exact cause of death.

"The required database is needed because the high-risk group for COVID-19 is those aged above 60 years with comorbidities. The ascertaining of the cause of death exclusively due to COVID-19 and thereby association/correlation with the corelable clinical science symptoms on manifestations would be feasible. This would pave the way for greater and critical analysis on the said count and would prove to be of reasonable significance and importance not only from the point of view of deciphering the corelable causes and the manifestations but also from the various other aspects of scientific critical study."

BMC health workers conduct a rapid antigen test Hafkin Gymkhana on Tuesday. PIC/ASHISH RAJEBMC health workers conduct a rapid antigen test Hafkin Gymkhana on Tuesday. PIC/ASHISH RAJE

"However, it must be ensured that the said dispensation of performance of autopsies should be exclusively subject to the adherence to the prescribed guidelines in the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, and managements thereto from time to time, so that the required conformity is worked out at all costs," said Dr Mishra, who is also the pro-chancellor of DMIMS.

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First Published: 19 September, 2020 07:49 IST

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