Prioritizing communicable diseases in the post-pandemic world

Covid-19 has brought attention to the potential hazard of communicable infections and the necessity for further prevention, writes Dr. Kanury V S Rao

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About Author: Dr. Kanury V S Rao, Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), PredOmix. Dr. Kanury served as Senior Scientist and Head, Immunology Group of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) for over 25 years before establishing the Drug Discovery Research Centre at THSTI between 2015 to 2017. He is the recipient of several awards including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award, Millennium Medal, and Ranbaxy Research Award.

The human race was significantly affected by Covid-19. It resulted in a shocking loss of life on a global scale and exposed the healthcare system’s flaws, which had a significant impact on people’s health, ability to advance economically, confidence in governments, and social stability.
But ever since the pandemic, the importance around health and well-being has suddenly increased. More than ever, individuals are concerned about their health, including what they consume, if it has any benefits, nutritional value, how much exercise they should get, and other factors. In order to meet the public’s increasingly sophisticated expectations and demands, healthcare institutions have likewise undergone a paradigm shift.
In reality, Covid-19 has brought attention to the potential hazard of communicable infections and the necessity for further prevention. In fact, finding a strategy to avoid communicable diseases to the greatest extent possible has become more crucial than ever, given their propensity for rapid transmission.
Communicable diseases: An easily transferable illness
A communicable disease is a type of illness that spreads from one individual to another and can be brought on by viruses, bacteria, microbes, pathogens, or fungi through a number of different channels, such as immediate physical interaction with an infectious individual, eating or drinking contaminated food or beverages, making contact with contaminated body fluids or inanimate objects, inhaling airborne contaminants, or getting bit by an insect that is carrying the infection. Some examples of communicable diseases include HIV, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A, B and C, measles, salmonella, and blood-borne illnesses. These disease agents can spread from person to person, animal to person, while others have multiple modes of transmission. Certain communicable diseases have minor symptoms that subside quickly. In contrast, some of them can be dangerous and even fatal. The degree of a person’s symptoms would depend on their immunity and general health.
Ways to curb communicable diseases
Covid-19 has given us a clear picture of why it is crucial to prevent the rise of communicable diseases in the future. By making certain modifications to our daily routine we can certainly protect ourselves from contracting such diseases. It has been determined that one of the most crucial ways to safeguard oneself from these diseases is to practice good personal hygiene. Hand washing properly can help prevent the spread of germs, especially before handling food and after using the restroom. In addition, personal items like toothbrushes, towels, razors, handkerchiefs, and nail clippers can all be sources of infectious pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These things are known as “fomites,” a term that refers to inanimate items or materials like clothing, cutlery, or furniture that have the potential to carry and spread disease and infectious agents. There are several infections that could theoretically spread through fomites, even though many of them have a limited probability of doing so. As a result, it’s crucial to teach kids not to put toys or other objects in their mouths and to keep them away from such items.
Apart from this, the risk of contracting needless diseases increases if you consume any type of contaminated food. Therefore, consuming safe drinking water and food is one of the best methods to avoid gastro-related infections. Moreover, respiratory infections are rising to the fore. In order to prevent the spread of respiratory infections, it is recommended to cover your nose and mouth with your arm, sleeve, or the crook of your elbow rather than using your bare hands. When experiencing respiratory problems and being unable to isolate, it is recommended that you always wear a face mask. Additionally, receiving the necessary vaccinations that are made to defend against such infections is another strategy to prevent these communicable diseases.
Role of government
Recognizing the significance of halting the spread of communicable diseases, the Indian government has put into place three disease eradication programmes, namely the National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP), the National Leprosy Eradication Program (NLEP), and the National TB Elimination Program (NTEP). A well-planned operational approach for active case detection and ongoing surveillance has also been implemented, both in urban and rural regions. In addition, the government is overseeing and enforcing adherence to public health laws, which includes inspecting food establishments to lower the risk of foodborne illness, tattoo parlors and body piercing shops to lower the risk of blood-borne illness, and swimming pools to lower the risk of water-borne illness. Also, the government is collaborating with population health services to carry out public health initiatives, monitor, and regulate vector-borne disease levels so as to prevent the spread of unnecessary infections.
Importance of diagnosis in preventing communicable diseases
A diagnosis is deemed to be an excellent way to identify the underlying causes of diseases in their early stages and stop them from getting worse. Neglecting the early symptoms of any disease typically causes it to spread in your body and even surrounding people. More tools than ever before are available now to detect illnesses quickly and easily. In order to trace the strain back to its origin and, ultimately, determine what caused the infectious outbreak, it is not only possible to identify the type of pathogen but also its particular genetic pattern. Based on that, an appropriate treatment can be determined and the infection in question can be treated quickly.
In reality, new, accurate and efficient diagnostic tests are constantly being developed in an effort to identify infections quickly enough to come up with a treatment plan and put it into action. Furthermore, along with these tests, big data plays a critical role in recognizing or forecasting such disease outbreaks in time to prevent or reduce their final magnitude.
All things considered
Covid-19 had a severe impact on the health and healthcare system. As a result, the value of health and well-being unexpectedly increased, and even the healthcare systems underwent major changes to meet the new needs of the general population. The significance of halting the spread of other communicable diseases was recognized in light of the rapid spread of Covid-19. Several health-related actions, such as maintaining good personal hygiene, routinely cleaning your surroundings, and choosing to get immunizations at the appropriate time, became commonplace as a result. In addition to these, the concept of early diagnosis was put into practice as it is considered to be a great approach to catch the disease early and use an appropriate treatment strategy to stop infections from spreading further.