Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

RMRC’s BSL-3 Laboratory Inaugurated

LG Congratulates RMRC for its Achievements and For Being a Blessing In Disguise for the Islanders 

Port Blair, May 17: The Biosafety level – 3 Laboratories set up by the Regional Medical Research Centre, Port Blair was today formally inaugurated by the Lt. Governor of the islands, Lt. General (Retd.) Bhopinder Singh at the centre premises at Dollygunj.

Addressing the gathering soon after the inauguration, the Lt. Governor expressed that it is a matter of extreme pleasure that RMRC has come up with a Bio Safety Lab, Level 3 in Port Blair. ‘It is a significant milestone for RMRC and I’m sure that these facilities would provide much needed medical data as regards to the various emerging and re-emerging infections”, he said.

“As we are aware that we do not have the necessary diagnostic medical infrastructure to diagnose diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Bird Flu, Swine Flu and many such infectious diseases. The delay caused in diagnosing and identifying the diseases on the mainland sometimes resulted in mortality and therefore setting up of Bio Safety Level 3 Lab in Port Blair would not only provide necessary medical backup for the islands but would also provide a safe working environment for the laboratory personnel, researchers, medical doctors, veterinary doctors who work on different aspects of the diseases such as development of diagnostics and identification of the disease, understanding the environmental issues and assisting in development of new drugs, vaccines and the pathogens responsible for the diseases”.

Apprising the gathering about the geographical challenges as regards to the location of the islands and connectivity between the islands separated by large stretches of deep sea and rough weather condition, the LG said that it is always a big challenge for the Administration to reach proper medical care in all the islands coupled with the shortage of Specialists, Super Specialists visiting our islands.

Expressing his gratitude to the RMRC for setting up these facilities, the Lt. Governor said that it would give us a great sense of relief, build our confidence and raise the morale of the islanders by timely detection and diagnosis to enable the medical department to contain the outbreak of such diseases and its spread to other islands.

“I understand that this centre had identified what was locally referred to as Andaman Fewer, a very dreadful disease of the islands in the past as Leptospirosis. I also learnt that WHO has recognised the Centre and designated RMRC as the collaborating centre for diagnosis, research, reference and training in Leptospirosis with one of the terms of reference to establish Reference Laboratories in South East Asian Countries. The WHO has also nominated the Director of RMRC as the member of the Leptospira Project Active Governing Reference Group. The centre has also established National Monitoring Bureau for accessing the health and inclusion of status with reference to diabetes, hypertension and accessing lipid profiles of the residence of A&N Islands, which is a matter of pride”, said the LG.

Wishing all success to the Centre, the LG expressed his gratitude to Dr. V. M. Katoch and Dr. P. Vijayachari for setting up such an important and much needed laboratory in a short span of time. He also congratulated the Director and his team of scientists and research scholars for upgrading the status of the Research Laboratory for the people of the islands.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Vishwa Mohan Katoch, Secretary, Dept. of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI and Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research said that this is the 30th year of RMRC’s existence in the islands. It started with two-three shops at Aberdeen Bazar. The centre started working on Leptospirosis, which was a cause of concern not only in the islands but in the entire country. Today RMRC, Port Blair has become a National Reference Laboratory for Leptospirosis and we are proud about it.

The RMRC now has also started concentrating on non-communicable diseases, starting from Nicobar Group of Islands and moving into the Andaman Group, he said.

Earlier Dr. P. Vijayachari, Director, RMRC (ICMR), Port Blair welcomed the gathering and explained about the Biosafety Level -3 Laboratories and the achievements of RMRC over the years. A short film on RMRC’s activities produced by the Door Darshan Kendra, Port Blair was also screened on the occasion.