New Delhi: In a move to ensure that there is a structured legislation to handle a pandemic like todays situation, the Centre plans to bring the draft National Public Health (Prevention, Control and Management of epidemics, bio-terrorism and disasters) Bill to empower the governments to handle unforeseen situations like pandemic outbreak at present.
Health minister Harsh Vardhan told the Rajya Sabha on Saturday the government is working on a National Public Health Act for the past few years and it will be brought to the House. The Bill will address the deficiencies of the National Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Amendment Bill.
The draft Bill – which was twice circulated in the past in 2009 and 2018 for stakeholder comments – proposes to empower state and local authorities to take appropriate actions to tackle Public Health emergencies like epidemics and bioterrorism for a wide range of subjects. States and local bodies under the Bill can take multiple measures, ranging from quarantining people to decontamination of areas, isolation of the infected, destruction of animals or birds and surprise inspections during any public health emergency.
The proposed Bill will talk of terms like epidemic, isolation, quarantine and social distancing and had clear definitions for public health emergency of international concern, ground crossing, disinfection, de-ratting and decontamination. “All issues not included under the Epidemic Act or National Disaster Management Act will be included in the Public Health Act,” Vardhan said.