Hyderabad: The ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad has sparked interest among researchers of mass gathering medicine as it provides a unique opportunity to study the impact of such mega events on the health of people. The World Health Organisation and the prestigious scientific journal, Lancet, are now studying the Maha Kumbh Mela-2013.
Earlier, the WHO and Lancet teams studied the impact of huge crowds on human health during the Haj-2012, London Olympics and Wimbledon held last year.
Mass gathering medicine is a new branch of science that deals with medical and health issues linked to huge crowds.
The Maha Kumbh Mela is of special interests to scientists involved in MGM research as similar events in the past 200 years were marred by stampedes and infectious diseases.
The Lancet conducted a research study during the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in 2010, which attracted about five crore people.
“Outbreaks of infectious diseases at the Kumbh Mela have been known since cholera was reported in the late 19th century, and deaths following stampedes have occured several times,” says a research report by the Lancet.
According to the journal, mass gatherings pose complex health-care challenges related to communicable diseases surveillance, vaccination, travel medicine, environmental health, emergency preparedness, crowd management, and national and international security.
Internal medicine expert Dr K. Ramachandra Murthy says research on mass gathering medicine would help health planners take preventive measures. “People are increasingly participating in large numbers in religious, cultural and sporting events and this calls for concerted efforts from health planners, researchers and doctors,” he adds.
The Lancet study on MGM revealed that human stampedes and heat-related illnesses are the leading causes of mortality. Minor traumatic injuries and medical complaints are the main contributors to morbidity.