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    Personalities of the Month

    Personalities of the Month

    Personalities of the Month:  Arun Sivan, India.

    Hello, this is Arun Sivan, and I am from Kerala, India. I am currently working as a consultant entomologist (technical) at the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme in Odisha state.

    My current work profile involves planning and implementation of vector control activities; designing integrated vector control guidelines, protocols, and activities; entomological risk assessment of various VBDs; management of VBD outbreaks; coordination with various government departments, NGOs, and other partner organisations for the prevention and control of VBDs; and insecticide resistance monitoring studies. I have completed my master’s and Mphil in Zoology from the University of Madras, Chennai, India. I obtained my PhD in Entomology through the Regional Medical Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), Port Blair, from Pondicherry Central University, Puducherry, India. I have worked extensively on malaria, dengue, Chikungunya, and lymphatic filariasis vectors of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Odisha state. I also have published my work in prestigious national and international journals.

    It has been more than 12 years since Arun worked in the field of entomology and vector control.

    Back to the time when I was pursuing my M. Phil (The Master of Philosophy in Zoology), I had an exposure visit to one of the distinguished Entomological Research Institutes in the country. As a researcher, I found the work done by them at that point remarkable, which made me think about pursuing a career in the field of medical entomology. The field of public health entomology/vector biology/vector control is the backbone of vector-borne disease control and elimination programs. However, many say there is a lack of career opportunities in this field, including in India. For example, existing jobs are being abolished in many states. This is due to the failure of the administration to understand the importance of our field. People fail to recognise the complexity of the parameters involved and consider it a layman’s job. I think APMEN can provide sensitization to the hierarchy of administration who are directly or indirectly involved in public health programmes to bring about a change in the approach of the system towards entomologists for the generation of new posts and filling up of vacant posts.

    Now in 2023, when I look back, we are now traversing the path of malaria elimination.

    Finally, I was able to successfully complete my doctorate in entomology (public health) from one of my dream institutes, Regional Medical Research Centre-Indian Council of Medical Research, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India. I mainly worked on Aedes species but got vast exposure to various molecular tools and techniques, interaction with renowned scientists and resource persons, VBD outbreak investigations, malariology, and diurnally sub-periodic Lymphatic Filarisias elimination programmes are some of them. All of these were life-changing experiences for me. This further gave me the opportunity to work as a state consultant at a very young age in the most malaria-endemic state of India. The responsibilities and pressure were humungous, but I can state that the Odisha VBD team is one of the best things that have ever happened to my career to date. At the time of my joining, there were about half a million cases of malaria every year, with 3-digit death figures. This was a huge challenge to deal with. Now in 2023, when I look back, we are now traversing the path of malaria elimination. Indeed, the journey was tough till now, but the experience gained and being a part of such a team is outstanding. Other than that, I also got the opportunity to work closely with the ELF programme, being recognised and selected as a state-level trainer for various ELF activities by the National Centre for Vector Borne Disease Control, the Government of India and WHO. I attended numerous WHO TTOTs Experiencing such overwhelming responses and results makes me feel confident and optimistic for future challenges.