New health law draft: 4-tier system, clearly defined powers
- The draft proposes health cadre system.
- From establishing a 4-tier health administration system with “well defined” powers, the Government started finalizing various provisions of the draft Bill for a new national public health law.
Proposed National Public Health Act
- In the works since 2017.
- It will replace the 125-year-old Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.
- It will also cover public health emergencies caused by bioterrorism, natural disasters, chemical and nuclear attacks or accidents.
- The draft Bill proposes a 4-tier health administration architecture, with multi sectoral national, state, district and block-level public health authorities with “well defined” powers.
- The proposed law will provide for creation of public health cadres at national and state levels.
- The draft Bill defined: Isolation, Quarantine and Lockdown.
Definition of Lockdown
- Restriction with certain conditions or complete prohibition of running any form of transport on roads or inland water.
- It covers restrictions on the movement or gathering of persons in any place whether public or private.
- It also includes prohibiting or restricting the working of factories, plants, mining or construction or offices or Educational institutions or market places.
New law prompted by Covid-19
- The proposed law will deal with updated, scientific and comprehensive provisions on surveillance, disease notification and public health emergencies arising from epidemics, disasters and bioterrorism.
- The existing Epidemic Diseases Act lacks provisions for the management of a pandemic like Covid.
- The Government has been banking on the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act of 2005.
Public Health Emergency
- The draft lays down several situations in which “public health emergency” can be declared.
- It includes:
- 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.
- While the proposed legislation on public health has been pending for years, it has gained momentum in recent months.