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India, Bangladesh’s scientists agree to share information on infectious disease

Human and animal health scientists of Bangladesh and India have agreed on the need for joint investigations and monitoring of infectious diseases, particularly in the bordering districts.Both sides made the recommendations in the first ever ‘Bangladesh-India cooperation workshop on anthrax’ that concluded in Dhaka on Jan 28.They also put forward short-term, medium-term and long-term plans of collaboration to contain infectious diseases like anthrax.Public health specialists in Bangladesh have long been demanding a joint infectious diseases contingency plan between the neighbours to control the emerging bugs like nipah, anthrax and avian influenza Rising travel and trade between the two countries give these bugs an easier and faster access beyond the frontiers.But the issue had never been discussed.“We consider this workshop (Jan 26-Jan 28) a good beginning. It was really a fruitful workshop,” Prof Mahmudur Rahman, director of the government’s disease monitoring agency, IEDCR, told bdnews24.com on Friday IEDCR with the help of the US CDC organised the workshop at its premises.Director of India’s National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease Informatics, Director of Odisha Public Health, scientists from the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences in Ranchi, and Manipal Centre for Virus Research attended the workshop, among others, with Bangladeshi scientists from different institutes and universities.Bangladesh side in its short-term proposal suggested a joint Bangladesh-India protocol for “systematic assessment to identify cross border anthrax illness reporting, detection and enhance outbreak response”.It also recommended exploring existing mechanisms and resources for arranging regional workshops or seminars for enhancing cross-border collaboration.Bangladesh also proposed for “multi-centric” research that means a same research will take place in multiple centres in India and Bangladesh.In the long term Bangladesh hopes to form a regional network to improve communication and collaboration across borders and across sectors.“Indian scientists also agreed with Bangladesh’s view particularly on sharing information and joint investigations in the bordering districts,” Prof Rahman said.“Scientists can begin it even from today,” he said replying a question.“It’ll take time to make it a formal agreement between the countries, but we scientist can start it from today,” he said.“For example, institutes can post their information on the website so that we get it when we need,” he said.“IEDCR updates its website following outbreak of any disease”.In the last 10 years, Bangladesh has strengthened its IEDCR, in a way that the US CDC has declared it as a global disease detection site.The centre has been equipped with latest technologies that include bio-safety laboratory.It has been appreciated for quick response to the diseases like nipah virus, pandemic influence, and anthrax, among others.Bangladesh was also prepared to deal with Ebola virus though it was predicted that the virus was unlikely to travel into the country.From its own experience of handling outbreaks, the IEDCR was pushing for collaboration with friendly neighbour India.The deadly nipah outbreaks in Thakurgaon in January 2007 and in Hatiabandha of Lalmonirhat in 2011 were also close to the borders.It was quite likely that the bat transmitted virus also struck the other part of the border. But there had been no information in this regard.It was also happened in the case of anthrax.Bangladesh found the bacterial disease was widespread in a border district of Meherpur.But there was no information about the situation on the other side of the border.“Collaboration is the key to control infectious disease spread as a country can better prepare when they get early warning,” Prof Rahman said