Addressing concerns raised in Lok Sabha over protection to healthcare workers, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the government it is studying the opinion sent by fourteen states governments on the proposed National Public Health Bill.
“The government, in the last three years, has been drafting the National Public Health Bill… We got a legal opinion that we should seek an opinion from states; now we have received option from 14 states,” Harsh Vardhan said in the backdrop of the passage of Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in Lok Sabha.
The reply came after members raised concerns that the amendment only provided protection to healthcare workers during the pandemic. “…A law should be enacted to protect doctors during all circumstances and not just during the pandemic,” TDP MP Rammohan Naidu said.
The Health Minister also reiterated that the amendment is an empowering law, where the states can make their own temporary regulation. “We still don’t know for how long this battle against the pandemic will go on… At the beginning of the pandemic, unfortunately, we started witnessing stigmatisation against health care workers; we also witnessed violence. The amendment sends a strong message against such acts… However, this amendment was introduced as an emergency. It is an empowering act, where the state can make temporary regulation,” he said.
During the debate, BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, suggested, that the ambit of the protection against violence should also be extended to the police. “The law gives protection of healthcare workers. However, it should also be extended to the police,” Mahtab said.
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