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    Personalities of the Month

    Personalities of the Month

    Personalities of the Month: Dr. Kaushik Sanyal.

    Hello everyone, I would like to introduce myself as Dr. Kaushik Sanyal, from Murshidabad, West Bengal, India. I completed my graduation & post-graduation degree (B.Sc. Honours & M.Sc.) in Zoology at the University of Kalyani, India. Then, I pursued my PhD degree in Zoology with a specialization in Entomology from the University of Burdwan, India, in 2017. I also completed a Diploma in Public Health Entomology from Mohan Lal Sukhadia University, Udaipur, Rajasthan, in 2022. Currently, I am working as Scientist C (Public Health Entomology) at ICMR-Regional Medical Research Centre (Dept. of Health Research, Govt. of India), Bhubaneswar, Odisha. My prime goal is to explore the grey areas of public health entomology and give a clear picture to mitigate the challenges of Vector Borne Disease control.

    Community involvement & vector survey for Dengue
    Dr Sanyal was involved in a community involvement & vector survey for Dengue

    Since, mid-2017, I have been involved with Public Health Entomology. Earlier, I worked as a District Entomologist at Murshidabad, West Bengal, for 2 years and as a State Entomologist (NVBDCP) for more than 4 years. Recently, in February 2024, I joined the regional centre of the Indian Council of Medical Research at Bhubaneswar as a Scientist. As my first posting was in Murshidabad district of West Bengal, it helped me to study and understand the transmission dynamics of major vector-borne diseases of India like Malaria, Kala-azar, Dengue, Lymphatic Filariasis, Japanese Encephalitis. During that time, my prime responsibilities were to investigate the major vectors of that area, followed by planning for its control & epidemiological analysis. It was a great opportunity to work with the peripheral field-level health workers and directly with the communities to learn about the demographic and geographic profile of any high-burden area. The experience I gained there was instrumental in helping me to join as a State Entomologist (NVBDCP) in mid-2019. In the new assignment, along with my State Entomological team, I worked to control the vector abundance in an integrated way. During this tenure, I acted as the focal person for Kala-azar Elimination Program in the state of West Bengal. I also revived the State level Entomological Laboratory which was non-functional, and trained our District Entomologists (would like to mention only in West Bengal, every district has one or two Entomologist) on taxonomy, field surveys, use of different tools, planning for vector control and generation of entomological early alerts to control any upcoming upsurge or outbreak of any VBDs in our State with the help of National experts. During this time, I also received various training from national and international organisations like WHO, APMEN, NCVBDC, and ICMR, which has further enriched my expertise. I joined as a Scientist in February 2024, as a medical entomologist.

    Honestly speaking, like many others, I was also initially a bit ignorant about the subject of Entomology. The fact is many of us did not know exactly about Public Health Entomology during our college days, which may be due to a lack of information or due to the lack of importance. Except for a few institutes in India, they provide modules or courses on entomology or public health entomology. However, after taking up my career in Public Health Entomology, I am trying to spread this message and information to my juniors, faculty, and friends about the scope of Public Health Entomology and its future aspects. In the past few years, the importance of Public Health Entomology has been realised at the national and State levels. In India, we have many stalwarts in this field, and many national institutions have also started impartial training in this field.

    I am lucky that during my PhD under the supervision of a renowned taxonomist, I learned many aspects of entomology as well as its bionomics. Joining ICMR as an entomologist is like a dream come true for me. Also, while pursuing a Diploma in Public Health Entomology from MLSU, Udaipur, I learned about the most neglected subject in our Nation. During my professional tenure for the last more than six years, I am very blessed to have been trained by many national and international experts in this field, which were organised by the National Centre for Vector Borne Disease Control (NCVBDC), Govt. of India; World Health Organization (India and SEARO); Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); Absolute Human Care Foundation (AHCF), India; Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance (APLMA), Singapore etc. In the last couple of years, I have acted as a trainer for Entomologists, VBD Consultants, Insect Collectors, Medical Professionals, Health Service providers etc. Also, during this tenure, I am being trained in Remote Sensing & GIS applications and that has helped me to prepare vector mapping and generate many attributes of future concern. In India, ICMR Institutes are offering courses on Masters in Public Health (MPH) and Public Health Entomology which is a great opportunity to acquire knowledge about ongoing research as well as present challenges of vector-borne disease in India and globally. Using this platform, I wish to sensitize the upcoming generation who are now studying either at graduation or post-graduation level, as there is a need for quality individuals to get involved in this neglected part of most vulnerable diseases.

    Dr Sanyal demonstrated the IRS use in vector management tools

    I absolutely agree that there is a lack of career incentives in this field. I am also astonished that under the umbrella of Vector Borne Disease Control Programs worldwide, the word “vector” comes first, but no one bothers to give importance to this part. There is a lack of funding for operational research for the program individuals, a lack of importance of entomological evidence in the disease elimination process, lack of knowledge sharing platform as well as orientation for the program people.

    To change this scenario, recruitment of this cadre at the administration level may help us. Someone from such a background may raise the issues and placement of the same at the highest level is urgently needed. Though our senior Entomologists are trying every day to get it done but the process is time-consuming.

    Being a Scientist & an Entomologist, my target is to generate opportunities, feasibilities, and information about ongoing vector-borne research works for the groups and communities, so that they can get involved in this journey successfully. Also, I will try to establish the importance of knowledge about various harmful vectors along with other researchers, scientists & experts in this field. In this elimination phase of many vector-borne diseases like Kala-azar Elimination by 2024, Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis by 2027 and Malaria Elimination by 2030, the National Programme Division, State Programme Division, several institutes performing medical research, partners like WHO, World Bank, BMGF, CARE, LSTM, PATH, Malaria No More, APMEN, APLMA, CHAI, LEPRA, should join hands to create the opportunities for the capacity building of budding entomologists.

    Another important thing is acknowledgement. In India, there is no lack of quality individuals, but we also need to look into their remuneration and recognition to them. To attract more and more individuals to take up public health Entomology, we have to push the government, the administration, and the policymakers to think about it and the partners must get involved in this job.

    Already vector-borne diseases have set a scar on global markets and GDP. To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the disease control programmes, proper knowledge about vectors & and bionomics is mandatory; until then, elimination is not possible. Even after a forceful process of elimination, those diseases will emerge and reemerge. Evaluation of cut in ongoing transmission can only be judged by trained Entomologists and no other.

    Very interestingly, the entomological study is site or zone-specific, and vectors are very sharp with respect to building resistance. Hence, the involvement of more entomologists, insect collectors, lab technicians, and scientists is highly needed at this stage. For vector-borne disease control, there are three pillars: early diagnosis & prompt treatment, integrated vector management and social mobilization. However, the second pillar is mostly neglected globally. I must say that though the entomologists are getting ill-paid, we still have to give the community a good result so that the policymakers and government can focus on it. A considerable amount of focus should be given to the documentation of the observations, too. Currently, the government, many research institutes, scientists, program individuals, and NGOs are working hard to improve the situation, and hopefully, this scenario will change, and there will be a good prospect in the near future.

    Dr. Sanyal was doing laboratory work under supervised guidance of Dr. P. K. Srivastava

    Currently, due to manpower constraints, many areas have not been explored as well and due to climate change and changes in human behaviour, we have introduced modern technologies and the involvement of artificial intelligence technologies to the program people so that they can generate good results to achieve the goals. Under the umbrella of One Health, we have to rethink how to manage the vectors and many researchers are making some useful tools for early alert and better control measures.

    Representing the State in front of National and International delegates and talked about the entomological activities in the State.