24 Sep : The Department of Parasitology at Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh , the only designated Independent department of Parasitology in the country, with its 32 years of existence is providing diagnostic services for parasitic diseases. The department planned to hold the symposium with the main theme ‘Parasitic Infections Then (32 years back) and now (Present decade)’ to mark its Foundation Day, keeping in view the WHO mandate to provide Health for all by the year 2020.
Over the decades, there has been change in the Pattern of parasitic diseases. Dracunulosis, commonly known as Guinea worm disease, has been eradicated from the country and India was declared free of this disease in 2001. Although continuous efforts are being made to control vector borne diseases and other preventable diseases, yet with the advent of HIV/AIDS, few other parasitic infections such as cryptosporidiosis, microsporidiosis, isosporiasis, leishmaniasis & HIV co infections are now being increasingly recognized. The clinical spectrum of these diseases in an immunocompromised patient is also different than in an immunocompetent individuals.
Further, development of drug resistance, insecticide resistance, appearance of new parasitic strains, emerging and reemerging parasitic infections, animal parasites gaining importance as human pathogens are few of the challenges for health professionals for ultimate control of these diseases.
It was proposed to hold the symposium and invite eminent scientists to deliver lectures on the Changing Pattern of Parasitic diseases over the past decades, advances made in the diagnosis, studies on pathogenic mechanisms, progress made in the vaccine development, changing treatment strategies and prevention and control strategies in the past and present decade.
The academic programme was inaugurated by Prof. K.K.Talwar, Director, PGIMER, Chandigarh . In his inaugural address, he emphasized the need to develop more collaboration with basic sciences researchers and he also congratulated the department to carry on molecular and basic science research in the field of parasitology
Prof. N.K.Ganguly, Former Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi and Emeritus Professor, PGI in his Foundation Day Lecture’ deliberated on the issues of changing scenario of various parasitic diseases, specially in view of the problem of drug resistance in Leishmaniasis and malaria. He highlighted recent clinical trials of miltefosin and paromycin for the treatment of Leishmaniasis which is an important public health problem in the state of Bihar, West Bengal and eastern Uttar Pradesh. He also emphasized the need for the development of malaria vaccine as Plasmodium falciparum is showing resistance to all the drugs presently available for the treatment of malaria and no new drugs are likely to be available in near future.
Prof. R.C.Mahajan, Emeritus Professor, PGI Former Head and Founder Member of the department of Parasitology highlighted the importance of existence of department with an Independent status. He appraised the audience, about the contributions made by the department for the development and application of In House diagnostic techniques and research outcomes of International Standards. He also highlighted about the importance of various experimental models developed by the department, which are now accepted worldwide. Prof. N.K. Ganguly, Distinguished Biotechnology Fellow and Advisor, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi released the ‘Souvenir’ in which profile of the department and achievements since its inception have been put on record.
Dr. Jambulingam, Director, Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC), Pondicherry discussed the challenges posed by the problem of filariasis in the country. He also discussed about the various programmes being undertaken by VCRC for the vector control aimed at control of malaria and filariasis.
Dr. S.L.Hoti, Head, Division of Microbiology and Immunology, VCRC, Pondicherry detailed out the studies being done at VCRC in the field of genotyping the filarial parasites. He presented his work done on population structure and genotyping of Wuchereria bancrofti, the causative organism of filariasis.
Prof. M.L.Dubey of PGIMER, Chandigarh , discussed the present scenario of Visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-azar) and emphasized that current control measures have failed and development of a vaccine for Kala-azar is need of the hour. He also presented experimental work conducted in the department for the development of DNA vaccine for visceral leishmaniasis.
Prof. Prati Pal Singh highlighted the current malaria situation and expressed concerns and need to develop the newer drugs for malaria. He presented his research on developing the drug combinations to treat malaria and counter the problem of drug resistance in malaria parasites.
Dr. Harpreet Sandhu, Assistant Director General, International Division, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi apprised the participants of the modalities and need for carrying collaborative research projects with the advanced centers abroad.
Prof. Anuradha Chakraborti, Deptt. of Experimental Medicine, PGIMER, Chandigarh summarized the Genomic and Proteomic Approaches towards diagnosis and research in parasitic diseases, which were practically existent during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Trichomonas vaginalis, the most important cause of non viral sexually transmitted disease (STD’s) is now included in the list of Neglected diseases by WHO. Ms. Melissa Conrad, New York School of Medicine, New York presented her work on Population dynamics and molecular typing of T.vaginalis isolates collected world wide. She is presently attending department of Parasitology, PGIMER, Chandigarh for conducting molecular typing of Indian isolates of T.vaginalis with the use of Microsattelite markers developed at their center.
The Academic programme was attended by 85 delegates including faculty members, Residents and Research Fellows from different Medical Colleges in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh Jammu and Kashmir , Himachal Pradesh and other Institutions in North India .