The epidemiological studies play a major role in treatment planning and management of infectious diseases. Healthcare organizations have an epidemiological purpose towards infectious disease management by the provision of better treatment methods. This in turn help in policy implementation. Therefore, it is important to explore and analyze various epidemiological techniques employed for infectious disease management and also examine its role in deciding policies for the prevention and control of malaria in India.
Epidemiological approaches for infectious disease management
The health care industry is the most reliable source when it comes to the collection of epidemiological data for any infectious disease. They collect data directly from the patients. Data comprises of medical records of patients visiting the hospitals (Conway, 2007). The data collection functions on four main approaches. These components comprise of surveillance, research, workforce and laboratory. These combined together form a strong public health institution, that help in the policy development and infectious disease management process.
Surveillance for epidemiological purpose
An effective surveillance system includes the tools, officials, procedures, and infrastructures providing information in achieving its epidemiological purpose (WHO, 2012). The data collected in the form of medical records of the patients get maintained by the doctors, nurses, medical lab scientists and technicians. In addition surveillance of the patients comprise of performing tests on the infected patients and providing to information to the pharmaceuticals. They, in turn, provide information on the efficacy of the treatment and prevention methods. This information flow provides for planning, monitoring, and examining the efficiency of the malaria control program, thereby fulfilling the epidemiological purpose. The surveillance can provide the following statistics about any infectious disease in the country;
- Identification of the areas and population groups that are at maximum risk by performing the geospatial analysis and giving the colour coding for the intensity of the risk.
- Identification of the trends followed in the cases of deaths and incidence caused by the malaria parasite.
- Assessment of the impact of control measures by performing Meta-analysis.
- The efficacy of the drugs in the general population.
Research for infectious disease management of Malaria
The healthcare industry performs research on finding the causal agents of Malaria i.e. Plasmodium species in the country. They have direct access to blood samples of the affected individuals. Blood tests comprise of identification of the species and strains of the parasite (Conway, 2007). Molecular epidemiology helps the healthcare organizations implicate for pharmaceuticals for development of strain-specific drugs. The branch of science whereby epidemiological studies performed on the basis of molecular biology is called molecular epidemiology. This helps to identify the pathophysiology of infectious disease as well as its sources, circulation patterns, transmission probability and transmission patterns (Eybpoosh et al., 2017). These information help plan treatment methods for infectious disease management.
Molecular epidemiology provides with the following information;
- Identification of the correct species and the trend analysis of the prevalence of the disease caused by that particular disease.
- Assessment of the degree of complexity of the disease.
- Information about the outbreaks, epidemics and reintroduction of malaria. Identification of the species that are becoming resistant to the existing drugs. Trend analysis of the disease incidence and deaths caused by the particular species.
- Provision of information to pharmaceuticals. Development of the drug efficiency for drug-resistant species of also for the high-risk areas.
Workforce for epidemiological purpose
The healthcare industry performs the epidemiological studies with the help of the workforce that operates on the ground level. This workforce collects periodic data on the incidence and mortality cases of malaria. Ground level collection of data takes place specifically for remote locations (WHO, 2012). Geographic locations that are not in the reach of appropriate hospitals or medical treatment facilities, as a part of the government rural healthcare missions. Workforce from the healthcare organizations collects samples of blood samples for testing, and collect healthcare demographics. This allows the government to reach out the rural with better interventions and healthcare with better treatment programmes.
Laboratory for infectious disease management
The laboratory infrastructure is a necessary requirement in epidemiological purpose for infectious disease management. Laboratory helps in the testing of blood samples identifying the causal viral strains and vectors. Data stored provides demography and trend of disease (Eybpoosh et al., 2017). Data outcome is also helpful in the case of epidemics and outbreaks of the disease. The data also used in drug development against infections and provide for policy formation. In addition, the data and outcomes also help control infections and diseases in the particular area or geographical location.
Epidemiological purpose of information used for infectious disease management
A proper flow of the correct information in the form of statistics provides appropriate information to the government and other agencies (Eybpoosh et al., 2017). Appropriate statistics provide information on the efficacy of healthcare policy against Malaria and other infectious diseases. Proper information flow helps the Government to determine the policy along with expenditures for the control of the disease for every district and state of the country. Data from the efficacy of preventive programmes and provision of treatment methods help in infectious disease management.
Epidemiology generates information for decision making by health professionals working at all levels of the health care system. This information is relevant to not just healthcare or policymakers but also to the public and the rural communities. Outcomes from trend-analysis and other clinical studies are responsible if effective management and policy intervention of parasites causing diseases.
- Conway, D. J. (2007) ‘Molecular epidemiology of malaria.’, Clinical microbiology reviews. American Society for Microbiology (ASM), 20(1), pp. 188–204. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00021-06.
- Eybpoosh, S. et al. (2017) ‘Molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases.’, Electronic physician. The Electronic Physician, 9(8), pp. 5149–5158. doi: 10.19082/5149.
- WHO (2012) ‘Disease Surveillance for Malaria Control’. www.who.int/malaria/publications/atoz/9789241503341/en/.