Keywords: Introduction, Enactments to control pandemic, Measures taken by states, IMA
Law plays a significant and structural role which is also responsible for the creation of an infinitely complex network of legal relations connecting every single individual of a society. Our individual and social behaviour derives its genesis from the law, which is responsible for the development of social reality. In the present situation, COVID-19 is our reality. It is an eye-opener for all of us, as a community, as citizens and even as a nation. From Mandvi of Bombay (presently Mumbai), the plague gradually engulfed a massive human population within a short span of time. In order to combat such an epidemic, the Epidemic Diseases Act was enacted in 1897. Section 2 of the legislation confers a discretionary power upon the state government to adopt temporary regulations to be observed by the public or by any person/class of persons as it shall prevent the outbreak of such epidemic. The central government’s power was however inserted by an amendment in 1920. According to section 2A of the act, the central government, concerned that any part of the entire country is threatened with an outbreak of an epidemic, may take measures and prescribe regulations. As per section 3 of the Act, anyone who violates the act shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under sectio188 of the Indian Penal Code.
Allied Indian Legislations vis-à-vis Public Health
India has certain public health enactments with an objective to prevent and control epidemic diseases. For example, iThe Live-Stock Importation Act primarily regulates the importation of livestock and livestock products which is likely to be affected by infectious and contagious disorders. The same legislation also empowers the state government (Section 4) to make rules for the detention, inspection, disinfection, or destruction of imported livestock. The Indian Ports Act under Section 6 empowers the government to make rules for the prevention of danger arising to the public health by the introduction and the spread of any COMMUNICABLE DISEASE from vessels arriving at or being in, any such port, and for the prevention of the conveyance of infection or contagion by means of any vessel sailing from any such port. The Drugs and Cosmetics Act under section 26B empowers the Central Government to manage, restrict, or manufacture drugs within the public’s interest. If the Central Government is satisfied that a drug is important to satisfy the wants of an emergency arising thanks to epidemic or natural calamities which within the public interest, it’s necessary or expedient so to try to then, that Government may, by notification within the Official Gazette, regulate or restrict the manufacture, sale or distribution of such drug. the sweetness of IDSP lies in its capacity building, data management and closed-circuit television with the appliance of data and Communication Technology. Albeit, these enactments are taking public health issues in consideration but our existing situation demands integration and convergence of all the relevant sectors under one legislative roof.
State-Level Regulations in regards to epidemics & COVID-2019
India has enacted quite a few state legislations for public health. For example, section 81 of The Madras Public Health Act empowers the government to make such rules as they deem fit for the treatment of persons affected with any epidemic and for preventing the spread of the same. It has even a clause on such infectious diseases that are transmissible through animals (Section 61). Section 86 of The Cochin Public Health Act empowers the government to make rules as they deem fit for the treatment of persons affected with any epidemic, endemic or even infectious disease. The Goa, Daman and Diu Public Health Act was also enacted along similar lines (Section 75).
The West Bengal Epidemic Disease COVID 19 Regulations mandates all government and private hospitals to have an influenza-like illness and flu corners for the screening of suspected COVID-19 cases. 1The imposition of social distancing has been directed under the 2020 regulation. Certain geographical areas may be declared as containment zones by barring any entry and exit of people or vehicles. Similarly, under Maharashtra Regulations for Prevention and Containment of Coronavirus Disease, the State Integrated Disease Surveillance Unit (under IDSP) and District Collectors have been entrusted with certain duties and obligations to combat COVID-19. Even the Municipal Commissioner is competent to implement containment measures in Maharashtra. Delhi Coronavirus Regulations also empowers the surveillance personnel to enter any such premises to trace and detect COVID-19. Such entry by the surveillance personnel has been declared lawful under the regulation.
The Indian government has also taken recourse to Disaster Management Act by declaring COVID-19 as a notified disaster. From a pharmaceutical angle, India imports almost 80% of its raw materials from China. India has recently developed an indigenous testing kit for COVID-19. Previously it was heavily dependent upon imported testing kits. Therefore, we need to consider all these gaps while reforming healthcare laws. In fact, international legal instruments should also take into account while adopting a comprehensive health law. In the absence of a law, it is now with the governments to determine and adopt innovative measures to eliminate this pandemic. The rights of the medical professionals and healthcare personnel, promotion of investments in the healthcare sector as well as medical research, the establishment of an emergency fund for pandemic crises, restrictions in travel and movement during a pandemic emergency, adoption of a health information system, regulation of animal markets/trade, and alignment of fundamental rights of pandemic law are some core areas that need immediate attention. In order to regulate the avenues of social distancing, mandatory isolation and quarantine, inclusive public health laws should also consider the thresholds as enshrined under Article 19 and Article 21 of The Constitution of India.
INDIA is taking steps that could make doctor shortage a non-issue in coronavirus battle
By changing MCI regulations, India is the only country that can produce over 1.5 lakh doctorsand specialists and this is often our greatest artillery against Covid-19 pandemic.
Consistent within the consideration, doctors in vital disciplines like anaesthesiology, pulmonology, cardiology and radiology who are waiting to look for the last word exam with a “Board Eligible” degree should be allowed, with immediate effect, to start out helping within the management of Covid-19 cases. India has around 50,000 such specialist doctors who can play a huge part just in case coronavirus cases within the country happen to rise exponentially. The suggestions say these specialists could be handed their “Board Certified” degree at a later stage, after passing the exam.
In AHMEDABAD doctors complain of lack of professionalism. The Ahmedabad Civil Hospital is that the biggest within the state and therefore the government had kept apart 1,200 beds for Covid-19 patients here, aside from 500 beds. 69 medical staff, including nurses, and doctors have tested positive at GUJARAT CANCER RESEARCH INSTITUTE.
Indians to realize as US readies positive identification for doctors The Bill also allows doctors with five years experience within the US and a piece record that proves that their admission to the US would be in the national interest, to urge green cards without a cap if they’re doing Covid-19 related work. It also proposes a replacement Special Immigrant positive identification category for doctors on Covid-19 duty.
PUNE: Indian doctors could emerge because of the biggest beneficiaries of a replacement regulatory proposal within us that seeks to liberalise visa rules for healthcare professionals within the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, or HEROES Act, proposed by the Democrats within the House of Representatives includes provisions for immigrant visa extensions.
MAHARASHTRA implore five laws to cap high private hospital costs. In a first, the government has capped treatment costs privately hospitals for people without medical insurance. For others, the capped prices will inherit effect once they exhaust their medical cover. the choice comes after several patients with COVID-19 and other ailments highlighted the exorbitant cost of treatment at private hospitals.
The Indian Medical Association has written to the central government demanding an ordinance to guard the medical profession against violence. The IMA has also made the decision for a ‘White Alert’ to the state at 9:00 pm on Wednesday, during which all doctors and hospitals will light candles as a symbol of protest and vigil against their mistreatment and abuse. The IMA also warns that they’re going to observe a ‘Black Day’ if no action is taken by the Government.
IMA says that doctors are abused, beaten up, denied entry and lodging since the coronavirus outbreak. consistent with the letter by the IMA, obstruction to cremation of doctors who lost their lives fighting the virus was the aggravation, “We demand a special Central Law against violence on doctors, nurses, health care workers and Hospitals by an ordinance,” wrote the IMA within the letter to the Government.
All of the aforesaid legislation, regulations, and initiatives are relevant in the current context, but they fail to address the ethical issue of equitable access to public healthcare. In this context, The National Health Bill of 2009 was quite progressive as it touched upon the human rights dimension of public healthcare. The bill defined epidemic as an “occurrence of cases of the disease in excess of what is usually expected for a given period of time, and also includes any reference to disease outbreak.