The first confirmed case of the virus Zika infection in India is found in a hospital in Ahmedabad, November 9, 2016. Subsequently confirmed two more cases: one in January 2017 and another in February. None of these cases were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) until 15 May.
Why is the government for a long time did not announce these cases, it is not clear, but it suggests a low level of clarity in India's public health system. It is not surprising that India occupied the last place in the health of transparency among the 32 countries.
WHO urges countries to promptly report potential or actual threat to public health, to the problem can be quickly resolved. But some countries do not comply with this requirement. The reasons are in a negative impact on business, tourism, activities of politicians and the loss of public trust.
In 2003, China refused information about a large outbreak of SARS, which has endangered the public and other countries. Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance System in India is extensive, but limited to a fragmented structure and lack of coordination. Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research said that the government chose to avoid panic.
There are other facts that caused suspicion. The authorities chose to abandon inform local civil authorities, which could quickly prepare people to take preventive measures. Authorities conducting surveillance of Zika virus, provided false information about what tests to exclude cases of malaria Zika virus.
The Indian government has developed a plan for informing about the virus Zika before the first laboratory was set up in November last year. But the plan was never implemented.
Since taking office, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has repeatedly talked about his vision of "Digital India". But mobile applications, comments on social networks and websites, created by the government to increase transparency and communication with the citizens, not to mention cases of Zika virus. The public learned of an important threat only from WHO.
Lack of transparency on important public health issues can lead to loss of confidence in the current government. For example, in media reports suggested that the government papered over the virus, as this could adversely affect the business (of an international business summit was held the second event in Gujarat).
risk assessment experts point to the importance of transparency to strengthen public confidence in an outbreak. The threat of large-scale virus outbreaks Zika in India and neighboring countries remains.
Increasing the level of transparency will be an example for other countries, and India will strengthen its position as a responsible player in global health.