Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, and Minister of Chemical and Fertilizers, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, today virtually laid the foundation for the new building of ICMR School of Public Health at ICMR- National Institute of Epidemiology(NIE) Ayappakkam, Chennai. The foundation stone laying ceremony was presided over by Prof. Balram Bhargava, Padma Shri, Secretary of Department of Health Research and Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the distinguished presence of Dr J Radhakrishnan, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Govt of Tamil Nadu.
This new building of ICMR School of Public Health will be the first step towards ICMR-NIE’s goal of training at least 150 mid-level public health professionals over the next three years. Special focus is being provided to the states with an inadequately trained workforce.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya said that the School of Public Health would boost the public workforce in the country. ICMR has been at the forefront and this step would further strengthen their efforts in ramping up the health Infrastructure in the country.
Showcasing India’s achievements during this crisis, Dr. Mandaviya further mentioned that indigenous capacity building, be it in human resources or vaccination, India has been ramping up health infrastructure rapidly and this has boosted India’s stature on a global level. Today, countries are seeking India’s vaccines and this should make us and our countrymen proud of our efforts.
Reiterating the crucial role played by the health professionals, Dr. Mandaviya noted, “The health workforce is the channel for delivering health interventions to populations. A critical mass of health professionals is necessary to manage the health system and is often a crucial limiting factor in the delivery of quality health services.” He further stated that “It is time for the country to develop a public health culture by creating a robust public health education system.” He did not just emphasize that public health education needs to be at par with the International level but also must be able to respond to public health issues at local levels in our country.
Noting the significance of holistic health education and its implementation to communities, he further added that, “There is a need to build a visible interface between public health training and communities so that the trained professionals can effectively deal with the problems in the communities. Interdisciplinary learning, which enables public health professionals to identify multiple determinants of health and influence them through multi-sectoral pathways, must be promoted. Public health learning needs to become more real-world oriented and equip the practitioner with problem-solving skills. It is imperative to increase the interface of public health education with the health system, especially with health services at various levels, to ensure that public health professionals can become effective change agents and elevate the health system toward greater efficiency and equity.”
The new facility will support the ongoing public health capacity programmes of ICMR-NIE. The Institute has been conducting Field Epidemiology Training Programmes (FETPs) meant to strengthen the public health workforce in India since 2001. The institute has trained more than 300 public health professionals from 30 States/UTs in the country, including 90 from Tamil Nadu. The FETP trainees from Indian public health systems learn public health skills by responding to public health emergencies such as disasters and outbreaks, evaluating how health programmes work, and doing epidemiologic studies to identify solutions to priority public health problems in their State. The institute conducts (1) Two-year India FETP leading to MPH (2) India Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS)- Southern Hub (3) FETP –Non-Communicable Diseases and (4) Intermediate FETP – Non-Communicable Diseases.