It gives me immense pleasure to dedicate Aster Medical Journal (AMJ) to the medical fraternity. As a multi-channel knowledge-dissemination platform, the mission of AMJ is to advance healthcare by sharing knowledge and expertise.
Tracing the Nipah outbreak right from its first occurrence in Malaysia to the recent outbreak in India, this issue of AMJ offers comprehensive coverage of this zoonotic virus epidemic. Documentation of Kerala’s encounter with Nipah is significant for the many lessons it offers to the world. Especially, the collaborative work across the public and private sectors, the interdisciplinary coordination, and the cooperation across all levels of governments, which have set a benchmark for the future.
I would like to congratulate the Government of Kerala and the Honourable Minister for Health, Smt. K.K. Shailaja. They stepped in with full alacrity and handled the epidemic with a gravity, deftness and promptness that prevented a potential catastrophe.
In any epidemic, quick detection is the key. The first part of the detection of the epidemic rests with the clinical acumen and alertness of the doctors. Here, definitely, it is our medical men who played a vital role in managing both the 2018 and 2019 Nipah outbreaks in Kerala. A round of standing applause to the outstanding clinicians of Baby Memorial Hospital Kozhikode, Government Medical College Kozhikode and Aster Medcity Kochi for early detection of the epidemic and excellent management of the Nipah patients and suspects.
Without a staunch support system, dealing with epidemics is a challenge of the top order. The healthcare professionals, media and the civic society in Kerala have rendered yeoman service during the Nipah epidemic, and we applaud their efforts here.
While we recognize the efforts of healthcare professions for containing the Nipah outbreak, it’s important to mention the challenges in laboratory diagnosis in the event of an outbreak. Laboratory diagnosis is an essential element of infectious disease surveillance, both for routine confirmation of infections and the rapid identification of the cause of epidemics. Therefore, it’s also imperative that we have increased access to cutting-edge virology labs.
I would urge stakeholders to pay attention to establishing BSL 4 labs in Kerala. It can improve detection capability and enhance efficiency of surveillance programs.
Dr Azad Moopen, MBBS, MD
Founder & Chairman, Aster DM Healthcare