National Institute for Research in Environmental Health Bhopal is the youngest institute under the aegis of premier medical research council of the country namely Indian Council of Medical Research. Entrusted with the mandate to be a state of art institute in environmental health especially for the mechanisms, diagnostics and therapeutics of chemical induced injury, it is progressing steadily. In past few years, the growth is observed in all the areas viz. infrastructure building, manpower capacity building and scientific outcomes. From an area of 10000 square metres given at Kamla Nehru Hospital building to begin with, now NIREH has its own campus spread on 20 acres land.
One of the biggest chemical disasters which left several hundred dead and another several thousand suffering from ill-health are still being followed by NIREH through longest ever epidemiological study for estimating their morbid conditions and to suggest strategies for its alleviation in collaboration with to the State Government of Madhya Pradesh. Initially due to manpower constraints most of the projects focused on health research due to exposure to MIC were entrusted to consultants from local medical colleges and health institutions. In last couple of years several scientists from diverse fields have joined the NIREH family. This has helped to explore the environmental health issues such as air, water and noise pollution, toxicogenomics, cytogenetics, indoor air pollution, etc. in addition to the research of health issues of MIC tragedy survivors.
The country does not have any formal course on environmental health. NIREH is playing its responsibility to develop manpower with regular training and educational programmes. Currently most of these programmes are short term courses. However NIREH plans to launch two full fledged degree courses on Environmental Biotechnology and Environmental Health in coming years.
Towards fulfilling Scientific Social Responsibility NIREH also contributes in the success of national programmes run by Government of India. Under Swachha Bharat Abhiyaan, based on need assessment, two villages namely Berkheda Bondar and Kori have been adopted and various activities such as awareness programmes stressing need of cleanliness, distribution of dustbins, water storage tanks and drinking water filters and conducting clinical examination of school children are regularly been conducted in adopted villages.
I am grateful to the ICMR for supporting this institute financially and administratively throughout its development. All the study participants who had been/are part of our studies need a special mention for providing the opportunity to study environmental health issues and propose control mechanisms for the greater benefit of mankind.