In a big push to fight against vector-borne diseases, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) plans to train 100 entomologists in a year to battle diseases like malaria, dengue, zika, chikungunya and lymphatic filariasis.
Starting this academic year, India will have a total of five institutions offering an MSc in Public Health Entomology — a course for specialisation in the study of vectors and vector-borne diseases.
The Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) in Puducherry, which comes under ICMR, has increased the number of seats in M.Sc. public health entomology from 8 to 20 to create a skilled workforce in this field. VCRC is the only institution that offers the course at the moment.
The Regional Medical Research Centres in Gorakhpur and Dibrugarh, the Patna-based Rajendra Memorial Institute of Medical Sciences, and the National Institute for Research in Tribal Health, Jabalpur, will all begin offering the course, The Print reported.
Every District To Have One Well-Trained Entomologist
India does not have enough entomologists. Against this backdrop, ICMR's initiative aims to ensure that there is at least one well-trained entomologist in every district and municipal corporation to combat vector-borne diseases effectively, Mint reported.
"These institutes will start this course in a phased manner. In the first year, around 68 seats will be filled, followed by an increase to 80 seats in 2023 and 100 seats in totality in all five institutions by 2025," said Dr Sabesan, the course director.
Vector-borne diseases are infections transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, ticks, triatomine bugs, sandflies, and blackflies.
Entomologists are trained to study several aspects of vector insects. They are also employed in private industries such as insecticide industries and the public health departments of state and central governments.
Dr Ashwani Kumar, the director of VCRC, said, "the control of vector-borne diseases is not very difficult".
"But the problem is that municipal authorities swing into action only when the disease is on the upswing," Kumar said. "The problem also is we do not have enough entomologists in the country, and that is why from this year we are increasing our seats from 8 to 20," he added.
The plan is to increase the total number of seats to 100 eventually.
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