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Virology centre for B’lore likely

THE City may get a National Institute of Virology (NIV) if the Centre approves a proposal by NIV, Pune. At a recent meeting between Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) and NIV, Pune, RGICD proposed to provide land to NIV to develop a state-of-the-art centre similar to the one in Pune.

The RGICD is willing to provide space for the NIV field station, if it is evicted from Victoria Hospital premises.  The swab samples of the patients were sent to NIV in Pune for test during the outbreak of H1N1 Influenza till a lab was set up in Nimhans to test the samples for H1N1. The field station is crucial even for polio and measle sample tests.

RGICD Director Dr Shashidhar Buggi said: “My vision is to develop NIV, Bangalore, which will cater to the entire south India. A proposal will be sent to the Governing Council chairman i.e. Chief Minister for approval.” The RGICD will provide space and infrastructure to set up the NIV, he said. In return, NIV has promised to set up state-of-the-art respiratory lab for the RGICD, which would conduct research activities and have real time diagnostic facility.

He said most infections are related to respiratory tract. So, it will be useful in the state. The NIV director is in the process of sending the proposal to the Central Government. The NIV will be funded by the Centre and WHO, he said. Dr Buggi has been invited to the NIV, Pune, to see the lab and understand its requirement.

Eviction notice
Meanwhile, the NIV field station on the Victoria Hospital campus, which has been under tremendous burden with the recent dengue outbreak, has been given an eviction notice by Victoria Hospital. According to an employee, the hospital wants the premises back and cannot foot the lab’s power bill. “Our monthly power bill comes to less than the cost of dengue and H1N1 samples. The hospital doesn’t value or appreciate our services,” the employee said.

NIV field station has been on the Victoria campus since the past 40 years, with the hospital providing infrastructure, power and water. While the hospital has not set any time frame for vacating, the employee feared that the authorities may cut power supply.

“It is difficult for us to shift in a day. We have samples which are 40 years old. They need to be kept under certain temperature. Even when we are shifting the equipment, we need to ensure that the temperature is maintained. Besides, they are  difficult to repair them if damaged,” the employee said.

However, Dr G T Subhas, Director and Dean, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, under whom Victoria Hospital comes, denied sending any eviction notice. “NIV has been doing a lot of work even for the State. They were asking for more space to expand. But this would have meant forgoing some laboratories, which they could not afford to do,” he said.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 25th August, 2010)

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