GUWAHATI, Jan 3 - State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today inaugurated an advanced facility to carry out studies on virology, fulfilling a much needed demand of the region. The Biosafety Level III Lab at Gauhati Medical College Hospital would cater to the needs of patients apart from helping medical students and researchers.
According to an official statement, a biosafety level is the grade of the biocontainment precautions required to isolate dangerous biological agents in a secure facility. The new lab is designed as per specification of Biosafety Level III. This level is applicable to clinical, diagnostic, teaching or research facilities in which work is done with indigenous or exotic agents which may cause serious or potentially lethal disease after inhalation. Viruses of swine flu or bird flu are included in this category.
This Biosafety Level III lab at GMCH contains sophisticated equipment like Real Time PCR, Nucleic Acid Purification and Extraction Equipment, Bio-safety cabinet, Electrophoresis, Gel Doc for advance molecular virology testing and research. Significantly, this is the first BSL III laboratory in a government hospital in the entire North East and second one after ICMR Dibrugrah. This lab will facilitate prompt diagnosis of swine flu or similar contagious diseases during an outbreak.
Moreover, the laboratory is equipped with a special Real Time PCR for identification and estimation of virus like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV, among others.
Medical students will get a chance to get acquainted with modern molecular testing facilities of the lab, which is designed to provide a broad spectrum of activities in virology not only for the post graduates in microbiology but also for those willing to pursue PhD courses in allied disciplines.
Whenever the occasion arises, samples from Assam are sent to NIV, Pune or NICD, Delhi. These centres at times become over-burdened with samples sent from all over the country in case of such outbreak. The necessity to establish a full-fledged Virology laboratory at Gauhati Medical College was felt in such circumstances.
It may be mentioned that emerging infectious diseases caused by viruses have emerged as threats to health in the recent past. During the last three decades, nearly two dozen viral pathogens have been detected and they have already caused substantial mortality, morbidity and economic loss across the world.
Establishment of an advanced viral laboratory is a prerequisite for a strong public health response to emerging viral diseases. With the emergence of infectious diseases like avian influenza, H1N1 influenza and other viral diseases, the need for a modern virology laboratory in Gauhati Medical College that caters to the whole of North Eastern region has been described as a positive development by the medical fraternity.
The minister also inaugurated the new faculty quarters, quarter for the superintendent of GMCH, building for the Institute of Paramedical Sciences, an OT complex and a mechanised laundry.