Director's Desk

Prof. (Dr.) Atul Goel,
DGHS & Director, NCDC

National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), earlier known as National Institute of Communicable Disease was established with a vision to function as center of excellence for control of communicable diseases. The institute has made significant accomplishments in elimination and eradication several diseases of public health importance such as Smallpox, Guinea worm, Lymphatic Filariasis and Yaws in the country. Emergence of disease like COVID-19, SARS, H1N1 infection, Avian Influenza Zika virus disease as well as re-emergence of infections such as Plague, Scrub Typhus, Leptospirosis etc. have posed continuous  epidemic threats in the country. In all such instances, NCDC have always been in the forefront to undertake epidemiological investigation and controlling outbreaks.

As an acknowledgement of its contribution towards surveillance of communicable disease, NCDC has now become WHO collaborating Centre for Rabies Epidemiology and Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio both for Southeast Asia Regional, National Reference Laboratory for HIV/AIDS, Diagnosis of Iodine deficiency, Testing of Insecticides to name a few.

In view of emerging and re-emerging pathogens and the need for country-wide disease outbreak investigation and response (as well as obligations under IHR 2005), it was considered necessary to expand mandate of NCDC to meet broader challenges in public health on the pattern of CDC, USA with rationale for development and strengthening of referral diagnostic support services, capacity building in public health, adoption of new technologies, as well as study the impact of climate change, urbanization and industrialization on disease.

Echoing with the global voice acknowledging importance of One health, India has stepped forward to insure integration of One Health approach as an inbuilt principle in its national programmes – The National One Health Program for Prevention and Control of Zoonoses, National Programme on Climate Change & Human Health Programme, National Program for AMR containment. NCDC is the nodal agency for implementation of these programmes and has taken lead in initiating and strengthening Inter-Sectoral Coordination among all stakeholders.

In view of emerging antimicrobial resistance, a major public health challenge, NCDC have taken lead in surveillance and containment of Antimicrobial Resistance by establishing The National Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (NARS-Net) and state medical college laboratories are actively involved in collection of antimicrobial consumption data that is evaluated using WHO AMC tool which in revised from time to time.

The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is being implemented through NCDC for disease surveillance strengthening and it has taken a leap forward and have designed and developed Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP), a web enabled near real-time reporting system accessible at all levels from villages to national level.

NCDC is also a part of network of ten laboratories collectively referred as the India SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) established for monitoring genomic changes of SARS-CoV-2 through whole genome sequencing (WGS). For better understanding of the SARS CoV-2 viral infection dynamics, morbidity and mortality trends, the viral genome sequencing data analysed by INSACOG laboratories is sent to NCDC for collation and integration. The Central Surveillance Unit (CSU) under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) at NCDC regularly collects data in a decentralized manner from various States/Districts and correlates it with the field data trends and study the linkage (if any) between the genomic variants and epidemiological trends.

As a part of Pradhan Mantri Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMASBY) Scheme to expand public health infrastructure in India, strengthening twenty metropolitan health surveillance units, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Delhi and establishing five regional branches is a priority. Further as part of strengthening laboratory network under NCDC, 10 BSL -3 laboratories & 1 BSL-4 laboratory at selected location are also envisaged.

Therefore, I am privileged to undertake the responsibility of managing this prestigious institute as Director in addition to my responsibility as Director General Health Services. I would wish for wholehearted support from my colleagues and staff at NCDC and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. We will surely move forwards as a team in a coordinated manner. 

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