World Health Organization’s national polio surveillance network, and other field staff, joined the Indian government in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, said an official statement.
“All of you in the field – IDSP, state rapid response teams and WHO - are our ‘surveillance corona warriors’. With your joint efforts we can defeat the coronavirus and save lives,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister.
The Minister, along with Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, was addressing WHO and other field staff, simultaneously connected from over 1 000 sites all over the country – from capital cities to the remotest corners.
“The National Polio Surveillance Project (WHO-NPSP) played a critical role in strengthening surveillance for polio that generated useful, timely and accurate data to guide policies, strategies and interventions until transmission of the poliovirus was interrupted in the country,” said Dr Khetrapal Singh.
The Regional Director said, “It is now time to use all your experience, knowledge and skills, with the same rigor and discipline that you showed while monitoring polio activities, to support districts with surveillance, contact tracing and containment activities.”
Dr Singh urged the field staff to support the state and district governments.
India’s WHO National Surveillance Project, renamed as National Public Health Surveillance Project post-polio elimination, has supported a number of public health emergency responses, including Ebola, with 50 of its surveillance medical officers deployed to Africa.