Draft in progress over new Public Health Law that will define a tier system in India’s healthcare
Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and other Government departments officials are in process to finalize provisions for the draft bill of new public health law in the country. The sources have learned that the law will seek to establish a four-tier health administration system that will have well-defined powers to set up public health system in India.
The draft, once ready, will be sent for public domain opinion and consultation before being presented to the Union Cabinet. The sources have shared that amid concerns of looming fourth Covid-19 wave, the National Public Health Bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament during the Monsoon Session.
The National Public Health Act is under works since 2017. It is going to replace, once passed, the 125 year old Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897. It is noted that the draft bill proposed a health care administration architecture that is four – tiered. It will have “multi-sectorial national, state, district and block-level public health authorities who will have well defined powers and functions to deal with “public health emergencies”. The proposed act is also going to cover public health emergencies that are caused by bioterrorism, natural disasters, chemical or nuclear attacks or accidents. It is also learnt that the proposed act will provide measures to create public health cadres at national as well as state levels.
Prompted by Covid-19 pandemic, the draft public health bill also defines measures in wake of pandemic, such as isolation, quarantine, and lockdown for management of Covid-19 as well as any future public health crisis. It is learnt that the draft bill defines a lockdown as “restriction with certain conditions or complete prohibition of running any form of transport” on roads or inland water.
The draft bill also lays out situations that can prompt declaration of “public health emergency”. These situations include “bioterrorism; appearance of a novel or previously controlled or eradicated infectious agent or biological toxin; a natural disaster; a chemical attack or accidental release of chemicals; a nuclear attack or accident”.