DRAFTING A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE LAW
Emergency, an unexpected and generally dangerous situation which requires immediate action, but are these actions always required to be on the spot, or can they are pre-decided? Yes, they can be pre-decided, and one of these action plans is the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Law.
But to start with we need to understand what Public Health Emergency is. Public health emergency is a situation where the demand for health services is more than the availability of the same and in this scenario, emergency preparedness acts like a life jacket to a sinking person. Emergency Preparedness reduces the impact of an emergency and gives sustained public health and medical preparation.
Before 2005, in the name of disaster management, the government of India called the Armed Forces during and post-disaster, but sometimes even forces seemed to be a bit directionless due to the differences in priority lists. India underwent a number of disastrous after-effects due to lack of preparedness laws, Orissa super cyclone in 1999, the Bhuj earthquake in 2001, Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 are some of the disasters which left a huge impact due to lack of preparation.
Therefore in 2005, the Disaster Management Act was passed that initially was an approach focussing on the reaction, relief, and post-disaster actions but gradually it shifted to preparedness and mitigation.
The Disaster Management Act comprises 79 sections and 11 chapters which encompass the following policies: -
1). The Ministry of Home Affairs was designated as Nodal Ministry for looking after the overall national disaster management.
2). The state government was advised to implement some relief codes. The state should further form State Disaster Management Authorities and District Disaster Management Authorities.
3). Disaster Response Funds and Disaster Mitigation funds shall be formed at all three levels (National, State, and District).
4). An ordered structure of institutions to been made at different levels.
The Authorities that are kept at the national level are: -
1). The National Disaster Management Authority- NDMA is responsible to make the policies for disaster management and ensuring its effective implementation.
2). National Executive Committee- NEC consists of the government officers at the secretary level that assists NDMA.
3). National Institute of Disaster Management-NIDM gives training and program for managing natural calamities.
4). National Disaster Response Force-NDRF is called when a specialized response is required for a disaster as it is comprised of units of trained professionals.
After analyzing the above policies, DMA is definitely a bulletproof set-up that can tackle a wide range of disasters and its forthcoming effects but one cannot deny the evident drawbacks of the same. Below mentioned are some drawbacks of DMA: -
1). The first and foremost drawback is the unclear outline of disaster-prone zones. Determining the disaster-prone zones would help in the escalated behavior of the state towards a calamity and also helps in predicting the extent of a disaster.
2). The act considers every disaster as a sudden disaster whereas some disasters are progressive in nature, they may seem small in present but can have massive outcomes in long run.
3). The way the authorities have been divided at different levels, it nowhere has the mention of the local authorities which surely have a very crucial role to play.
4). The last and very important factor in the success of any Act is its implementation. DMA surely needs some more technological advancements and the involvement of the community and private sectors for a fruitful outcome.
DISASTER MANAGEMENT ACT AND COVID 19
COVID 19, a terrifying pandemic that the whole world is going through and has shaken almost every strong pillar of the nation. In this time the actions that the Indian government took primarily focused to stop the nationwide spread of this virus. But these actions definitely could have been better as said by every individual covered by news channels.
Let us discuss the actions by the government which if were improved could have made this pandemic period bit less suffering: -
1). Although the first Advisory for passengers flying internationally was out by 17 January but it focussed only on the flights to China whereas almost 25 other countries like Japan, France, USA, Spain, Italy, etc had also registered COVID cases but no strict action was taken for those flights until March.
2). Lack of specifications for PPE kits taking from its design to quantity of order had led to the shutting down of a number of clinics and a massive rage in the medical staff.
3). Delay in placing an order of testing kit led to the insufficiency of testing kits and delayed production.
4). Where more and more testing was the only way to track the disease in initial ways India just had a testing rate of 10.5 tests per million people in the initial COVID phase.
5). Ans at last the major setback of India was the denial by ICMR for community spread. Where the ICMR was continuously stating that India had not entered into the community spread phase, the fact discovered was that no sufficient testing was actually done in order to give this observation.
Therefore, after the evident situation of the COVID 19 pandemic in India, it can be said that if the above-mentioned points were taken care of, India would have been in a better state than the present-day situation.