Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) signed a MoU with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for cooperation in the area of zoonoses, anti-microbial resistance, nutrition and pesticide residues. The MoU signing ceremony was presided over by J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Faggan Singh Kulaste, MoS (Health and Family Welfare) also graced the occasion. This MoU, which was signed by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Secretary (DHR) & Director General (ICMR) and Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & Director General (ICAR), will strengthen the ties between the two organizations and energize environment of mutual cooperation and collaboration.
Speaking on the occasion, Nadda said that in line with the vision of the Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, we shouldn’t work in silos and this MoU gives us an opportunity to work beyond the silos we have created. We have been working very closely with the agriculture sector, however this MoU will give us a structured set up to carry our work forward, he stated. “There is paucity of data regarding occurrence of zoonotic diseases, their modes of transmission to humans, sensitive and specific clinical and laboratory diagnostic tools. Suitable strategies to prevent them would be of utmost important especially in India,” J P Nadda said during the signing ceremony.
Speaking at the ceremony, Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said that there is an urgent need to enhance scientific knowledge that forces economic growth and social development of the country. “We are in cognizance of the huge demographic dividend that our country stands to reap, at this point in time and healthcare along with agriculture are one of the most important sectors for us,” Radha Mohan Singh added.
The Memorandum of understanding between ICMR and ICAR is an important step and will help to bridge the gap between human health and agriculture/veterinary research and will make India address high priority issues in a coordinated manner. Some of the significant outcomes of the MoU are as under:
- Exchange of scientific literature, information and methodology;
- Utilization of facilities and expertise in programmes of common interest as may be mutually agreed upon.
- Exchange of pertinent research material
- Development and implementation of collaborative research projects, the areas and methodology to be as mutually agreed upon in areas of mutual interest like Zoonotic diseases, Anti-Microbial Resistance, Nutrition, Pesticides and any other aspect acceptable to both parties which will be subjected to IPR clause in Article IV.
Such cooperation shall be implemented by the following means:
- Establishment of mutual relation between the scientific and technical divisions of the organizations of the respective Parties
- Creation of facilities for exchange of scientific technologies with experts and their proper placement for data sharing and sample sharing for providing control strategies for better public health
Zoonoses have been defined as diseases and infections that are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and humans. The effects of zoonoses are accentuated among marginalized groups since the poor tend to have closer interactions with animals and are further removed from accessible health services. With the second largest human population and one of the world’s greatest densities of livestock, coupled with socio-cultural characteristics particular to Indian populace present a challenge in itself. Co-habitation of farm animals in the same living space increases the opportunities of transmission of diseases in both directions. Some zoonotic diseases have pandemic potential, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza, Zika, Ebola, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Around 60% of all human diseases and around 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic however; these are missed, not recognized or understood in developing countries like India.