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Health ministry working on plan to set up National Health Info System
Tuesday, 28 August, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India, is working on a plan of establishing the National Health Information System, of which FSSAI, the apex food regulator, will be an integral part. The project shall be implemented with the help of the World Health Organization, while the initial work has been started by the ministry.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, said that it was to pinpoint food borne illnesses/diseases and their sources.

“If there would be a food-borne illness, there will be a procedure to identify the source of the illness and the testing of the food, which we only can do. That way we could assist the system to build a robust data bank on the subject,” he said.

According to WHO, the health information system provides the underpinnings for decision-making and has four key functions - data generation, compilation, analysis and synthesis, and communication and use.

The health information system collects data from the health sector and other relevant sectors, analyses the data and ensures their overall quality, relevance and timeliness, and converts data into information for health-related decision-making.

WHO said, “The information system also serves broader ends, providing an alert and early warning capability, supporting patient and health facility management, enabling planning, supporting and stimulating research, permitting health situation and trends analysis, supporting global reporting, and underpinning communication of health challenges to diverse users like policy-makers, planners, managers, health care providers, communities and individuals.”

However, health ministry sources stated that the project was in its initial days and the preliminary work had begun.

Meanwhile, FSSAI has already begun a project to coordinate with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and to establish a communication and coordination mechanism to prevent and restrict the spread of food-borne diseases.

In this regard, the apex food regulator has already issued a directive to state authorities to establish a direct contact with district surveillance officer or the Rapid Response Team of the Integrated Disease Control Programme (IDSP) under the NCDC.

Further, food safety officers (FSOs) were to be named a as member of the rapid response team for food safety surveillance and emergency situation. They would identify the emergency arise out of ingestion of foodstuff contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms or chemicals.

The purpose of the team would be collection of information about the outbreak, investigation and examination in coordination with the district surveillance team about the outbreak, like site investigation for operational hygiene, sample collection, assessment of the severity of the problem, identifying the spread of the contaminated food in the region, plans to stop the spread of food-borne disease, preparation of reports on the incident within a fortnight of the occurrence of the incident and send across the hierarchy of the food safety ecosystem and maintain a record of the meetings that have taken place during the investigations thereunder.
 
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