Dr. Omesh Kumar Bharti's Crusade Against Rabies

Dr. Omesh Kumar Bharti – The Co-Developer of a Low-Cost Anti-Rabies Regimen

In this article, you will read about the professional life of Dr. Omesh Kumar Bharti, a renowned epidemiologist from India. Dr. Bharti is credited for the development of a novel anti-rabies regimen.

Who is Dr. Omesh Kumar Bharti?

Dr. Omesh Kumar Bharti is an Epidemiologist. Along with his research partners, Dr. Omesh steered the development of a low-cost anti-rabies regimen.
An epidemiologist is a physician who is employed to study, prevent, and control epidemics or disease outbreaks. 

Omesh Kumar Bharti
Image Credit: http://www.she-india.org

High Cost of Rabies Vaccine - A Barrier in Anti-Rabies Programs

Rabies which spreads through dog bites and other forms of animal exposure is a rare human disease without a cure, but ironically, rabies is completely preventable. 

To prevent rabies the patient requires a set of vaccines. One of those vaccines has a very high cost. The previous expert guidelines recommended the dose of that vaccine as per the body weight of the patient. 

Dr. Omesh Kumar Bharti's Contributions to Rabies Control

Dr. Omesh along with his research partners planned and conducted a huge study to determine a new regimen based on the number and size of animal bites instead of the body weight. 

Their study showed that the new regimen was equally effective as well as safer than the expert guidelines as the patient was exposed only to one-tenth of the original dose. These findings were later accepted by the expert bodies and the new WHO recommendations citing these studies recommended the new regimen.

The implication of their research was that now for the same amount of money spent; ten times the original patients could receive the vaccine. The study and its continuous advocacy at various scientific and administrative forums took him more than a decade to finally see the change in expert recommendations.

High costs of healthcare and inflation in healthcare costs are one of the biggest problems with modern medicine and it limits the universal availability of medical care. In this scenario, any intervention which reduces the cost of an established treatment is welcome, but with the rider that it should be at least equally medically effective. To cross this barrier, it requires high-quality scientific studies to prove that the cheaper version is not less effective and the health of people is not being risked to save money. Also, commercial interests may favor the already established higher-cost treatment. Dr. Bharti's team crossed all these hurdles to make low-cost preventive treatment for rabies a reality.

His contributions to the further scientific advancement of rabies vaccination do not stop with the development of the low-cost regime. His fight to eliminate human deaths due to rabies continues in the form of many other studies with his team and collaborators.

Other Notable Professional Contributions of Dr. Omesh Kumar Bharti

Other than his famous contribution to the fight against rabies, he has silently made notable contributions as an epidemiologist in the areas of blood donation, ambulance services management, disease surveillance, maternal health, snakebite management, and polio eradication. He is also active through NGOs like Snakebite Healing and Education Society, Himachal Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Lok Kalyan Samiti, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, etc.

He did his MBBS from the Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, and completed his higher studies in epidemiology and public health at the National Institute of Epidemiology and National Institute of Health and Family Welfare. The government of India has recently awarded him with Padma Shri in order to appreciate his contributions to India's healthcare.

Prevention is better than cure - Desiderius Erasmus
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure - Henry de Bracton

Do you feel inspired by his journey? Feel free to share your views.

References and Further Reading

1. Padma Shri (Dr.) Omesh Kumar Bharti
2. Local infiltration of rabies immunoglobulins without systemic intramuscular administration: An alternative cost effective approach for passive immunization against rabies
3. This Himachal Pradesh doctor made rabies treatment cheap
4. A life-saving initiative
5. "Scratches/Abrasions without bleeding” cause rabies: A 7 years rabies death review from medical college Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India

Views expressed are personal

Last Updated On 08/22/2019 07:30 PM

Author Profile

Dr. Naval Asija is a New Delhi-based non-clinical doctor having health administration postgraduate training. Since 2018, he has been writing/blogging full-time on health issues. In the past, he has worked for a decade in healthcare, in different organizations, namely Innodata India Pvt. Ltd., Win-Medicare Pvt. Ltd., National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Integrated Disease Surveillance Project, and the National Polio Surveillance Project. The author can be contacted through https://www.linkedin.com/in/navalasija/
Journey of a non clinical doctor



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