New Draft Health Law: Four-Tier System, Clearly Defined Competences

The project offers health care frameworks; likely to be introduced during the monsoon session

From setting up a four-tier health administration system with “clearly defined” powers to creating a public health framework and even establishing a blockade, ministry officials Union Health and Family Welfare and other government departments have started the process of finalizing various provisions of the bill for a new national public health law, the Indian Express has learned. Once the draft is ready, it will be made public for consultation before being transmitted to the Cabinet of the Union. As the third wave of Covid wanes across the country, it is learned that the National Public Health Bill is expected to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament.

The proposed National Public Health Act has been in the works since 2017 and when enacted will replace the 125-year-old Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897. It will also cover public health emergencies caused by bioterrorism, natural disasters, chemical and nuclear attacks or accidents.

It is understood that the bill proposes a four-tier health administration architecture, with national, state, district and blocking “multi-sector” public health authorities having “well-defined” powers and functions to deal with “health emergencies. Publique “.

Although the national public health authority is proposed to be headed by the Union Health Department, it is chaired by state health ministers. District collectors will lead the next level and blocking units will be led by doctors or blocking medical superintendents. These authorities will be empowered to take measures to prevent non-communicable diseases and emerging infectious diseases, we learn.


New law prompted by Covid

The proposed law will address updated, science-based, and comprehensive provisions on surveillance, disease notification, and public health emergencies resulting from epidemics, disasters, and bioterrorism. The current Epidemic Diseases Act lacks provisions to manage a pandemic like Covid – the government passed the Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act 2005.

The bill also provides for the creation of public health frameworks at the national and state levels, we learn. The bill defined various measures such as isolation, quarantine and confinement, which were widely advocated by the Center and the States for the management of Covid. It defines a blockade as “a restriction under certain conditions or a complete ban on the use of any means of transport” on roads or inland waters, we learn. The definition of blockade covers “restrictions” on the movement or assembly of people in any place, whether public or private. It also includes “prohibiting or restricting” the operation of factories, factories, mines or buildings or offices or educational institutions or markets, we learn.

The draft provides for various situations in which a “public health emergency” can be declared. They include bioterrorism; emergence of a new or previously controlled or eradicated infectious agent or biological toxin; a natural disaster; chemical attack or accidental release of chemicals; a nuclear attack or an accident, we learn. While the public health bill has been pending for years, it has gained momentum in recent months.

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