ISDS Member Highlight Series – International Society for Disease Surveillance


ISDS created the Member Highlight series as a way to highlight member achievements, interests, and inspirations. This month we showcase ISDS member Jagan Mohan Babu, is a State Data Manger for the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme in Hyderabad, India.

How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you? After working in a different field for 10 years, I started working as a Systems Manager in a reputed Government Infectious Disease Hospital in Hyderabad, India where I was introduced to the world of disease surveillance. Later I shifted to the IDSP (Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme), State Surveillance Unit, where giving Information Technology (IT) support is my prime job responsibility. But after involving myself more in Reporting, Analysis, Monitoring & Evaluation, specifically being assigned the job of sensitizing peripheral staff on regular reporting and importance of surveillance, I realized it is an area of interest to me.

What do you do?

Being a State Data Manager for IDSP, I primarily ensure regular reporting from districts through web portal by way of Monitoring & Evaluation; analyzing trends for disease incidence; preparing periodic surveillance reports; liaise between National team and district teams on various issues;, training all cadres of staff; any other task(s) related to IT, data management or communication.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Data analysis. To try out and prepare different kinds of reports, tables, graphs on surveillance indicators, performance indicators, and disease trends. Presenting those different kinds of reports during the staff reviews and also through regular feed back mechanism to districts. 

What excites you in the work you do?

Being a non-medical graduate, to learn about different kinds of diseases, to know about their seasonal or cyclic patterns etc., and most importantly trying to relate those with the known episodes and other determinants. Showcasing some of the interesting results either on the health systems performance aspect or disease trends at the district or periphery level, particularly on the aspects they missed out during their analysis and the way in which the audience takes it in a positive sense to improve the system.

Who or what inspires you professionally?

Some of the officers within and out of department, even going out of the way sometimes, who look at the attitude of the staff rather than just qualification and encourage the staff to learn, to work and to showcase the results providing the opportunities. The participants who attend my sessions and their voluntary feedback, specifically the Medical Officers who have put up a good amount of service in the Medical and Health department, that even they could get something new from the sessions.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment or achievement (related to disease surveillance)?

Being one of the non-medical graduates to achieve the highest grade (A+) in the Post Graduate Diploma in Epidemiology, of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), in the first batch of the diploma program, competing with medical graduates in admission as well as evaluation at national level.

How long have you been involved with ISDS?

For the last 2 years.

Why are you an ISDS member?

Being involved in a nationwide disease surveillance programme and playing a key role, when I came to know about ISDS, I thought the member ship would be the platform for me to explore more on the subject, to get an idea of global scenario of disease surveillance, and to improve myself professionally.

What do you value most about your ISDS membership?

The global network of people and the diversity of professionals we come across and communicate with.

What is the biggest issue in disease surveillance (in your opinion)?

The feedback mechanism at all levels. If the feedback mechanism (Person to person / Reviews / Emails / Periodic reports) is strictly implemented as per the schedule decided at all levels on regular basis, all other aspects of disease surveillance like reporting, Analysis, dissemination, and Action will fall in line. 

If you were not a Data Manager, what would you be?

If I were not a Data Manager in disease surveillance, I would have been an Electronic Design Engineer.