From scientists to administrators, to fight against Covid-19, women who are working tirelessly to ensure India’s response are effective and constant
With as many workers tirelessly working at the forefront to tackle the challenge, the world tries to sway from the impact of economic recession which was induced by the COVID19 crisis. In India, to ensure burnish functioning of several departments – research, prevention, administration, diagnosis and cure, many matron women are working day and night, seven days a week.
We at Newspaper Catalog take a look at some of those leading these efforts.
Preeti Sudan, secretary at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, who is letting no stone unturned to meticulously help the aligning departments execute the Narendra Modi government’s policies to prevent the spread of the disease.
Beela Rajesh, health secretary of Tamil Nadu, cooperating and engaging with the departments and engaging with citizens through Twitter. The state currently has seen the highest jump in a number of cases in the past several days.
Dr. Priya Abraham, director of the National Institute of Virology, Pune, has patronizingly made a significant medical breakthrough by confining the lethal coronavirus. With this, it took a better understanding of the disease and finding treatment regimens.
Dr. Nivedita Gupta, the senior scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is busy designing the treatment and testing protocols for the country while Department of Biotech, Secretary Dr. Renu Swarup, has been seen busy to try finding the vaccine during these hard times.
As a usual scene, a 1983 batch IAS officer from the AP cadre, Sudan is seen leaving the office late at night from Nirman Bhawan.
With great knowledge, Sudan has acquired M.Phil in Economics and PG in Social Policy and Planning from the London School of Economics, she served as a consultant at the World Bank in Washington.
Sudan, along with Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan continues to coordinate with state and central government. Her ministry has been proved the nodal agency in fighting against the present coronavirus challenge. Both the ministries are conducting regular reviews of the evolving situation.
A senior official from her ministry said “Any query emerging from PMO or office of Union Minister, she is always the first point of contact in responding. On a regular basis, she is also involved in the review of preparedness with the states and union territories.
She was one of the prominent players in the evacuation of the 645 students from Wuhan, China,” the official added.
Sudan has a commendable track record in serving in finance, disaster management, tourism, and agriculture departments, among her cadre.
Dr Nivedita Gupta
Dr Gupta’s prime responsibility is building testing and treatment protocols in India, as she’s been working in the Division of Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases and in charge of viral diseases at the country’s apex health research department.
She played the primary role in containing the Nipah virus in Kerala last year and was involved in the investigations of the outbreak.
Over a month of two months, in the government sector total of 130 laboratories and in the private sector, 52 laboratories have been in roped to diagnose coronavirus cases. This was done with the major help of Dr. Gupta, an MBBS from Lady Hardinge Medical College, and a key person in amplifying the COVID-19 diagnostic capacity all across the country.
“She worked round-the-clock, including Sundays, to inspecting the Nipah cases last year. It was not even a pandemic like a coronavirus. From the past several days, and even now, numerous scientists stay in the office to conclude the investigations, including her,” said an associate in her department.
Gupta has a Ph.D. in molecular medicine from JNU and she has been instrumental in constituting up diagnostic laboratory network of ICMR and the virus research. In 2009 pandemic influenza outbreak this network was established subsequently. The Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) network of 106 laboratories has an amplitude in detecting the virus in almost all parts of the country and is largely considered as the backbone of the nation.
Dr. Gupta had vigorously investigated the viral outbreaks such as enteroviruses, arboviruses (dengue, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis & Zika), influenza, measles and rubella among others. She was part of the team that worked extensively on deciphering the etiology, and developed management guidelines, for acute encephalitis syndrome in different parts of India.
Swarup has been working at the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) for the past 30 years. Until April 2018, she held the position of Scientist ‘H’ — which denotes an outstanding scientist — after, she was appointed to the post of secretary.
A key person in deepening her research to develop a coronavirus vaccine, she formulated the Biotechnology Vision in 2001, the National Biotechnology Development Strategy in 2007 and Strategy II in 2015-20.
Her ministry has asked all IIT incubators to focus on research and development of portable ventilators, genome sequencing, and isolation of the strain of the novel coronavirus from blood samples.
Earlier she has been constituted in the Scientific Advisory Committee to the PM, with being a member of Task Force on Women in Science. A Ph.D. in Genetics and Plant Breeding, Swarup is known for promoting women in science.
The backbone of the country right now; that is National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, affiliated to the ICMR is lead by Dr. Abhraham. For deadly viruses like corona, the NIV was initially the only testing center in the country.
As the number of cases spikes on a daily basis, the NIV has succeeded in reducing the sample testing time of COVID-19 from 12-14hours to just four hours.
The very first positive cases of COVID-19 in India were confirmed by NIV. With the anticipation in the surge of a number of cases, the ICMR increased the number of laboratories. Under Abraham’s leadership, the NIV helped these labs with troubleshooting and ensured reagent supplies to the network of labs.
Abraham holds an MBBS, MD (Medical Microbiology) and Ph.D. from Christian Medical College in Vellore, where she was also the former head of the Department of Clinical Virology at CMC Vellore. Considered as an eminent professional from the field he was invited by the Medical Council of India, to draft the syllabus for the Doctor of Medicine (DM) in Virology. She is a fellow and registered in the Royal College of Pathologists and Royal Society of Tropical Medicine.
Her achievements also include being a key member of the WHO’s Guidelines Development Working Group Meeting for Hepatitis and HIV in 2012, and for Hepatitis B in 2014. In 2017, she served as a WHO consultant in Myanmar to formulate the National Hepatitis Testing.
With the plausible experience of 23 years and as the health secretary of Tamil Nadu, Rajesh in her state was appointed to be at the forefront in tackling the challenge.
From the cadre of the 1997 batch IAS officer, she is very active on Twitter and considered as a media-friendly bureaucrat.
Her latest tweet mentioned “Virus can affect anyone, let’s be gentle and sensitive towards each other and wage a coordinated battle against Covid19,”
Apart from sharing her thoughts, she also responds to queries directed at her or her department.
She served as the commissioner of Indian Medicine and Homeopathy before getting transferred as the health secretary in 2019.