20th Sep 2020 11:09:PM Editorials
Eastern Sentinel Arunachal News

Over the last couple of days a slew of developments have taken place which aim to bring a positive impact on the country’s Covid-19 response and beyond. The first is passage of Epidemic Diseases Amendment Bill 2020 in RS, the second an announcement by the Union Health Minister that a National Public Health Act is in the pipeline and the third pertaining to formation of expert committees for inspection of government and other Covid facilities after SC directives. It’s a matter of fact that the pandemic besides proving unprecedentedly disastrous, has also brought ‘realisations’ regarding the deep fault lines that have existed and remained unattended in the country’s public health apparatus. The responses initiated are not only necessary for the current circumstances, but are expected to serve as suitable precedents for future public health emergencies of a similar kind.

The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill 2020 will replace the relevant ordinance effective since April last and will make grievances and violence meted out to frontline Covid fighters as non-bailable offences. It can be recalled that there was an alarming rise in cases of violence and stigmatisation against them and the new law has defined “healthcare service personnel” in an exhaustive way by including doctors, nurses, paramedics, community health workers and any other person engaged in prevention/spread of the pandemic’s outbreak. Punishment provisions will comprise 3 months-5 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000-2 lakh. The proposition to bring a comprehensive National Public Health Act is also expected to be a suitable addition for betterment of the overall health sector as it will aim to address the deficiencies of DM Act and ED Bill. Although there shouldn’t be doubts about the nobility of the intention, it remains to be seen how much effective the NPH Act proves in plugging the loopholes existing within the public health system, the direct victims of which are the citizens. It can’t be denied that despite ‘guidelines’, various private hospitals across the country have overcharged Covid patients and black marketeering of vital life-saving devices was also rampant. ‘Shortcomings’ while taking care of coronavirus patients is a sordid reality the country learnt the hard way. The apex court has taken cognizance of it and the expert committees thus constituted will inspect, supervise and guide government and other dedicated Covid hospitals to bring positive changes.

Over countless number of times it has been reiterated by the Centre that holistic changes in health sector is a prime objective. It will be appreciable is the proposed legal changes and introductions and administrative actions bring results. As the task will be challenging, steadfast political will be necessary with public welfare to be given importance above ‘all else’. It remains to be seen how things unfold in the coming days.

Kenter Joya Riba

(Managing Editor)
      She is a graduate in Science with post graduation in Sociology from University of Pune. She has been in the media industry for nearly a decade. Before turning to print business, she has been associated with radio and television.
Email: kenterjoyaz@easternsentinel.in / editoreasternsentinel@gmail.com
Phone: 0360-2212313

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