Renovation Of Epidemic Diseases Act By Introduction Of Draft Public Health Bill 2017
Post on 07,July 2017   5:00 AM
By - PolyEyes Staff
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The draft Public Health (Prevention, Control and Management of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism and Disasters) Bill, 2017 has been released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Objectives:

  • The Bill aims to provide for the prevention, control and management of epidemics and issues pertaining to public health, consequences of disasters, and also caters to the acts of bio terrorism.
  • Bio-Terrorism: It is Intentional or deliberate release of biological agents including bacteria, viruses, or toxins to cause illness or death of people, animals, or plants. It is biologically induced carnage.
  • Bioterrorism is posed to be the next possible threat the civilized world faces.
  • The first disease used as a tool for bioterrorism was Bubonic Plague in 14th century across all of Europe, destroying a large portion of its population. It was used to infiltrate enemy cities.

What is the need for the bill: The draft Bill seeks to repeal the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 as it is incomplete or fails to address a number of flaws caused by changed priorities in public health emergency management. For instance, Epidemic Act 1897 is silent on the definition of dangerous epidemic disease.

Moreover, it being a century old act, the territorial boundaries of the act needs a relook.

Features of the draft bill: The draft Bill defines public health emergency as any sudden state of danger to public health including:

  • Extension or spread of any infectious or contagious disease infestations in humans.
  • Pests affecting humans, animals or plant.
  • Occurrence of or threat of dangerous epidemic disease, and Disaster or bio-terrorism or potential public health emergency requiring immediate action for its prevention, control and management.
  • The proposed bill lists 33 epidemic- prone diseases which include Anthrax, bird flu, dengue, HIV/AIDS, yellow fever, rabies, plague, measles, Kala-azar among others.

  • The draft also lists potential bioterrorism agents including bacteria of typhoid fever, cholera, and plague among others, and viruses including Ebola, dengue, Japanese Encephalitis and others.
  • The bill also outlines the powers of central, state and local authorities to take appropriate actions to tackle public health emergencies like epidemics and bioterrorism


  • The ministry has proposed any intentional violation of any provision under the Act will be consignable offence and punishable with a fine up to 50,000 for first violation and up to 1 lakh for repetition. 

Concluding Remark: Though the bill has covers major issues but it needs to bring more clarity on the role and responsibility as to which ministry will lead and when needs more elaboration in the bill. Also nowhere it is mentioned about how the district hospitals ought to respond in such situations and what public health institutions can do to strengthen the effort the government towards improving public health prospects. In this context likewise majority of the initiatives in India it limits under the bureaucratic interpretation complexity even after being detailed.


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