FE Exclusive | COVID-like approach is important to tackle non-communicable diseases: Dr. Pragya Yadav, scientist, ICMR-NIV | The Financial Express

FE Exclusive | COVID-like approach is important to tackle non-communicable diseases: Dr. Pragya Yadav, scientist, ICMR-NIV

According to Dr. Yadav, there has to be a continuous effort and investment to prevent future pandemics.

FE Exclusive | COVID-like approach is important to tackle non-communicable diseases: Dr. Pragya Yadav, scientist, ICMR-NIV
Pragya D. Yadav is a scientist at the ICMR-National Institute of Virology. (FE.com/Sushmita Panda)

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot has changed. Thanks to COVID-19, the healthcare space has transformed in numerous ways. New innovative approaches, telemedicine, digital health, and precision diagnostic tests have come up across the world as the world united together to combat the virus.

In India, scientists, doctors, and health experts left no stone unturned to find ways to tackle the virus that led to the death of millions of people. One such name is Dr. Pragya Yadav who played a crucial role in bringing out the science behind the virus and eventually in developing India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin. Moreover, she also played an instrumental role in developing India’s DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, ZyCoV-D.

On Tuesday, during the inauguration of the international COVID-19 pandemic exhibition in Delhi’s National Science Centre, Financial Express.com got the opportunity to speak to her on the takeaways from the pandemic, the rising menace of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) among others. She also highlighted the importance of ‘One Health’ which is an integrated, unifying approach to balance and optimise the health of people, animals, and the environment.

“…prevention and preparedness is the best way to deal. We need to focus on catering to One Health and for that animal healthcare experts, human healthcare experts, environment, and public health experts should all work together in sync, so whenever there is any alert of disease or a spillover due to animal-human interaction, it can be detected. We have to definitely enhance our surveillance…we have to keep doing this preparedness all the time. We don’t have to wait for another covid-like disease to start preparing,” Dr. Yadav told Financial Express.com.

According to Dr. Yadav, there has to be a continuous effort and investment to prevent future pandemics.

“The health infrastructure, animal husbandry, and the environmental scientists have to invest at the same time and we also need to work on new R&D tools which will enhance capacity and make the country self-reliant. This is very important…we have seen during the pandemic if we had not produced the vaccines in our country, we couldn’t have achieved such levels of mass inoculations. So we have to have in-house capacity,” she told Financial Express.com.

She also emphasised that increasing surveillance capacity will help in detecting new diseases in the country on time.

“…a lot of effort has been put by the government like they are enhancing containment facility across the DBT network, in ICMR we are having BSL facilities, also we are enhancing the human resources in the medical sector and also in the biological sciences…so we have more scientists….we need to become a self-reliant country…if you don’t do it by yourself then nobody will help you,” Dr. Yadav said.

On rising zoonotic diseases and NCDs, Dr. Yadav said that the approaches that were adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic should be implemented to tackle these diseases too.

“…when a disease causes death it tends to get more attention and when a disease doesn’t cause immediate death but has a long-term influence we don’t care much. It’s a mentality thing…the government is taking note of such diseases. Now, diabetes is also a very important disease in the country. We need to have the same approach for the diseases as well did in covid. Like everybody worked together as a team and they supported each other…health needs to be prioritised,” she added.

According to Dr. Pragya, diseases like COVID-19, Ebola, and Zika have taught that policies and their implementation can be achieved at a record time when need be.

“One thing covid has taught, and before that Ebola and Zika but covid taught badly that we can speed up things and that is what is required in each field…like this is a major public health issue and we need to speed up…let’s invest, and let’s work together because many times people have so much expertise but they are so fragmented while working…so we can bring those talents together and that will be really helpful,” Dr. Pragya said.

On Tuesday, the National Council of Science Museums and Science Museum Group, London unveiled the exhibition on the global effort to develop vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the first COVID-19 samples and various types of vaccines to the equipment and devices developed over time, the exhibition presented the journey of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years.

ALSO READ | As COVID-19 enter 3rd year, international exhibition on pandemic inaugurated in Delhi’s National Science Centre

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First published on: 16-11-2022 at 18:03 IST