Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi organized a consultation on “Problem of NTDs and other social issues pertaining to the migrant labour population of Kerala” in collaboration with UNICEF and Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment on June 26, 2015. The event was clubbed with the launch of the Indian Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases and also the official launch of its website.
Dr. K. N. Panicker, Emeritus Professor, Community Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, also a former WHO Consultant and the Chief Organizer of this consultation, welcomed the gathering and explained the significance of the consultation. He stated, “Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) result from four different causative pathogens– viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminthes which causes dengue, chikungunya, rabies, leishmaniases, leprosy and many other diseases. The morbidity and mortality due to the NTDs remains a major health challenge in India. In Kerala, due to the presence of an effective health care system the magnitude of this problem has been low. However, with the huge influx of migrant labor population in recent years from NTD endemic North Indian states, there has been an emergence or resurgence of these NTDs. Besides health issues, this work force is plagued with many other psycho-socio cultural issues, which also require immediate attention.”
Mr. Madhupal, renowned actor and director, formally inaugurated the consultation by lighting the lamp. He also formally launched the 'Indian Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases- an AMRITA Initiative' (iNTD Chapter). In his inaugural address Madhupal mentioned that Kerala is considered to be the 'Gulf' of migrant labourers. The goodwill ambassador of iNTD Chapter is the popular Malayalam film actor Shri. Dileep. The website was formally launched by Academician Dato Prof. Dr. C.P. Ramachandran, the Former Chief of Filariasis control, WHO Geneva.
Dr. Prem Nair, Medical Director, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, in his presidential address, congratulated the department of Community Medicine for the formation of the iNTD Chapter. He pointed out that poverty and NTDs constitute a vicious cycle. He opined that Amrita Serve project has given special consideration to NTDs and the chapter could be of assistance to theAmrita Serve project.
Dr. K. Leelamoni, Professor and Head, Community Medicine commended on the apt timing of the consultation coinciding with the reporting of Kala Azar in the neighboring district of Thrissur.Dr. Leyanna S. George, Assistant Professor and organizing secretary proposed the vote of thanks.
In his keynote address, Dr. C.P. Ramachandran made a vivid description on the Global Programme for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariais (GPELF)– its background, progress, impact, challenges and way forward.
Dr. K. V. Beena, former DMO and State Program Manager of NRHM, shared her experiences under 'Safe Kerala Strategy' an initiative by the government of Kerala. Dr. N. Ajith Kumar, Director, Centre for Socioeconomic and Environmental Studies made an interesting presentation on 'Migrant Workers in Kerala: Another Outlier of the Kerala Model of Development'. Dr. M. P. Antoni, State Convenor, Kerala Child Rights Observatory, a collaborating agency of UNICEF, and Head of Rajagiri Outreach Programme enlisted the problems faced by the migrants working specially in the plywood factories in and around Perumbavoor. Dr. R Rajendran, Deputy Director, NCDC , spoke about the Lymphatic Filariasis Control Programme in Kerala. Mr. Ashok Kumar V. G., District Malaria Officer, Ernakulam, discussed about the Vector Borne Disease Control Programme.
In the afternoon sessions experts discussed the role of Govt/NGOs in tackling issues related to health and social issues of migrant population. Dr. Jaideep Menon, Consultant Cardiologist, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, narrated the situation of migrant labour population in Kerala. Dr. Alexander John, Professor of Community Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, opined that psycho-sociocultural factors should be addressed. Dr. Aswathy S., Professor of Community Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, commented on the role of social determinants in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Dr. Vidya Menon, Professor of Internal Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, mentioned the system existing in USA, where the State sponsors services to migrants. Mr. Deepak Gopinath, State Project Officer of UNICEF sponsored Kerala Child Rights Observatory pointed out the increase in child sexual abuse and crime rate. Dr Anil Kumar, Professor of Microbiology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, mentioned about the easy availability of diagnostic facilities for NTDs. Dr. Paul T. Francis, Associate Professor of Community Medicine, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, commented on the complexity and magnitude of the problem.
Important recommendations formulated during the consultation included strengthening of existing registration system for migrant labourers, ensuring better living conditions, sensitization on health issues, provision of health care and sensitization on social issues.