Parliamentary Panel calls for strict measures to contain coronavirus

RSTV Bureau
New Delhi: A medical worker helps a suspected coronavirus patient, both wearing protective suits, shift to an isolation ward of Safdarjung hospital after going through scanning at the airport, in New Delhi, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: A medical worker helps a suspected coronavirus patient, both wearing protective suits, shift to an isolation ward of Safdarjung hospital after going through scanning at the airport, in New Delhi, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Taking note of the importance of translating modern technologies and innovations into the public health system, the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health & Family Welfare recommended DHR to formulate National Bio-security Policy, encompassing potential threat of various viruses.

Recognizing the importance of Research, the Committee strongly recommended higher budgetary allocation to DHR to achieve the set objective missions enshrined in National Health Mission and National Health Policy, 2017.

Scrutinizing the allocation for Health Research, the Committee noted that the allocations for Health Research have been lowest compared to the allocations for similar departments engaged in R&D activities.

Expressing concern over the incidence of diseases in the country affecting large chunk of population, the Committee recommended that DHR must strengthen the absorption capacity of the implementing agencies of the schemes and programmes for optimal utilization of the allocated funds at BE stage so that the Ministry of Finance does not reduce allocated fund at the RE stage.

While examining the state of preparedness regarding epidemics, the Committee opined that the Government should formulate a concrete contingent plan for managing epidemics. The Committee also recommended that each Viral Research & Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDL) must be updated on Good Clinical Laboratory Practices (GCLP). The government must undertake bio-security and bio-safety measures so that any new and emergent virus is contained and controlled within the shortest span of time.

Acknowledging the urgent need for strengthening of basic infrastructure for health research in the country, the Committee recommended that the fund has to be allocated, as investment, through budgetary provision to strengthen the network of research institutes engaged in biomedical research for ensuring bio-security not only against the emerging and re-emerging life-threatening viruses but also providing a protecting umbrella against bioterrorism.

Expressing concern over the lower allocation of fund to ICMR against its projected demand, the Committee recommended for higher budgetary allocation to ICMR so that ICMR can implement its originally conceived schemes/programmes without any problems.

Acknowledging the major achievements of ICMR in the specified areas, the Committee recommended that the mobile app on ‘Dietary Guidelines for Indians’ must be popularized especially in rural, urban slums and tribal areas. Laying emphasis on the strengthening of the Nutrition Surveillance System, the Committee recommended the Government to undertake Fortified Food to fight malnutrition as the flagship programme.

The Committee also recommended that Mission SHAKTI should be incorporated in school syllabus to educate students about the healthy lifestyle propagated by Mahatma Gandhi by way of cleanliness, Hygiene, sanitation, nutrition, physical fitness, mental health, etc.

The Committee recommended the ICMR to undertake new initiatives to improve the position of India in global hunger index and address issues pertaining to iodine deficiency disorder, POSHAN Abhiyan, nanomedicine, pharmacology/rare diseases, reproductive biology, maternal and child healthcare. The Committee recommends the ICMR to galvanize the Tribal Health Research Forum (THRF) activities and to set up a nation-wide research program in the form of Tribal Health Research Consortium of India (THRCI).

Considering the need of a robust strategy for capacity building of the global standard for manpower, the Committee recommended the DHR to have realistic assessment of the requirement of health care systems and of biomedical science and accordingly devise appropriate strategies for imparting training/exposure visits/workshops in various reputed international organisations.

Moreover, the Committee recommended for upgrading the knowledge domain in the fields of biomedical/ health sciences in various areas viz. Toxicology, Genomics, Proteomics, Geriatrics, Stem Cell Research, Clinical Trials, Good Clinical Practices (GCP), Biotechnology, Genetics, Operational Research, Health Informatics, Medical Ethics, Health Economics, Health Policy, Biomedical imaging and processing, Health Informatics, Environment and Health etc.

Highlighting the importance of awareness program about the preventive measures like hand-washing, sterilization, smoking, weight loss, dietary habits, etc. against the spread of viral outbreaks and other communicable and non-communicable diseases, the Committee recommended that the Ministry of Human Resource Development may consider incorporating the study material in the curriculum of school children.

Noting the constitution of an Expert Committee to examine the appropriateness of the indicators used in Global Hunger Index, methodological issues in the computation of GHI, the Committee would like to be updated on the recommendations of the said Expert Committee along with the response of DHR thereon.

Applauding the treatment guidelines and antimicrobial Stewardship Programme of ICMR to rationalize and reduce antimicrobial use in hospital, the Committee recommended for formulation of policy both in hospitals and communities to reduce antimicrobial use in the Health care System.