New health law draft: 4-tier system, clearly defined powers

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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:
  1. Bioterrorism,
  2. Appearance of a novel or previously controlled or eradicated infectious agent or biological toxin,
  3. A natural disaster,
  4. A chemical attack or accidental release of chemicals,
  5. A nuclear attack or accident.


  • While the proposed legislation on public health has been pending for years, it has gained momentum in recent months.