India to set up 160 virus testing labs
New Delhi: In the backdrop of increasing threat from epidemics like Zika, the government is setting up 160 virus testing laboratories across the country. These laboratories will also be equipped to handle cases of bio-terrorism.
The department of health research of the ministry of health and family welfare is setting up a three-tier national network of Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs). The network is being set up under the department’s ongoing research scheme called the Establishment of Network of Laboratories for Managing Epidemics and Natural Calamities.
“The department is committed to set up a total of 160 VRDLs all across the country. These VRDLs are being equipped to handle 30-35 viruses of public health importance. These laboratories will also handle possible cases of bio-terrorism,” said minister of state for health and family welfare Shripad Yesso Naik.
With mobility of people across the world increasing, the possibility of spread of viral diseases has increased proportionally.
A recent study by scientists at the University of Oxford and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, showed that India is at high risk of a Zika epidemic.
Naik said the National Institute of Virology, Pune has received financial assistance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta as per the Global Health Security agenda, for enhancing bio risk mitigation awareness in public health community. The fund also helps in creating laboratory networks for enhanced diagnostic capabilities to deal with surveillance and outbreaks of high risk group viral pathogens causing viral haemorrhagic fevers and respiratory infections.