14th ASCODD discusses Diarrhoeal Disease risk in Rohingya Refugee Camps

RGCB Director Dr M Radhakrishna Pillai hails Kerala model of healthcare


Kochi, Oct. 30: Global health experts expressed serious concern over the likelihood of an outbreak of cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases in crammed and unhygienic camps for Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees as the three-day 14th Asian Conference on

Diarrhoeal Diseases and Nutrition (ASCODD) got underway here on Monday. 


Delivering the special address, ASCODD incoming President Dr. Firrdausi Qadri noted that a major cholera outbreak in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh was prevented by launching one of the fastest vaccination programmes in the world.


“The signs of a major outbreak of cholera were evident in the Rohingya camps because of the unhygienic conditions. With combined efforts of the national and international

agencies, the World Health Organisation disbursed nine lakh doses of oral vaccination within six days, which is one of the fastest vaccination programmes in the world,” she said.


The conference has been organised by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, a

national institute under the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, in association with International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b); Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad; the INCLEN Trust International (INCLEN INT)and the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata.  


The conference, themed on “Saving lives: innovations and solutions for diarrhoeal diseases, enteric fever and malnutrition,” which is majorly supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Kochi.


RGCB Director Dr M. Radhakrishna Pillai, in his address, underscored vastly improved healthcare facilities in Kerala and the state’s preparedness to deal with severe health hazards.


“Diarrhoeal diseases are termed among the deadliest ailments across the world.

However, in Kerala, the scenario is much better. The infant mortality rate is 06 per thousand births. The state has a highly-efficient healthcare system in place leading to a   Kerala model of healthcare,” he said.   


Padma awardee Prof N K Ganguly, in his opening address, pointed out that the number of cholera outbreaks goes unreported in India.


“There have been many cholera outbreaks, but very few are reported in India, which is regrettable. Several entities have started working towards identifying such outbreaks and they are working towards adopting different measures for their total eradication,” he said.


American vaccine expert Dr John D Clemens, in his keynote lecture on the topic, ‘Prevention of Cholera’, cited the main reasons for a cholera outbreak and also measures for its prevention. 


“Rapid urbanization and natural and manmade crises leading to poor water sanitation and hygiene are the major reasons for a cholera outbreak. Different health

organisations are collectively working towards eradicating cholera by 2030,” he said.


The ASCODD is offering a platform to global experts to discuss and hammer out

solutions for diarrhoeal illnesses and malnutrition, one of the world’s most urgent

public health concern, through innovative scientific research and healthcare delivery.


Over 60 scientists from countries, including the UK, the US, Bangladesh, Germany,

India, France and Sweden, are to present papers and lead discussions in 10 sessions spread over the three days. Special sessions have also been organized to deliberate on effective strategies and innovative technologies in diarrhoeal disease surveillance,

vaccine research and other points of care diagnostics for enteric diseases.




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