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Table of Contents
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 10-15

Public health legislations in India (Part-I)

1 Senior Resident, Department of Community Medicine & Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, India
2 Professor & Head, Department of Community Medicine & Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, India

Date of Submission11-Feb-2018
Date of Acceptance25-Apr-2018
Date of Web Publication1-Feb-2019

Correspondence Address:
Durgesh Prasad Sahoo
Department of Community Medicine & Family Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2395-2113.251341

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How to cite this article:
Sahoo DP, Bhatia V. Public health legislations in India (Part-I). Indian J Community Fam Med 2018;4:10-5

How to cite this URL:
Sahoo DP, Bhatia V. Public health legislations in India (Part-I). Indian J Community Fam Med [serial online] 2018 [cited 2021 May 12];4:10-5. Available from: https://www.ijcfm.org/text.asp?2018/4/1/10/251341

  Introduction Top

Right to health is one of the fundamental human rights which is often compromised by outcomes of human behaviour either individually or as a social group, which are faced by the entire population in everyday life. This can be managed by changing the health behaviour through one of the basic approaches like- regulatory approach, service approach and health education approach. Though health education is the ideal approach but many times regulatory approach is also necessary considering the seriousness of the issue. The holistic vision of Indian medicine focusing on philosophy, technical and scientific aspects, has grabbed attention of many historians over the years and has evolved traversing a long path with constant changes adopted through trial and error method. Not only the form of medical care, but also the code of conduct has gained focus lately. Continuous efforts were done to make this science a legal, ethical and morally focused one. To strengthen the health care system, a focused legislatory approach is a pre-requisite.

Universal health care forms the platform over which the health care system of India takes its strength. It is a concerted effort made by the central governments and states/Union territories. The constitution charges every state for the improvement of public health among its primary duties. Laws are an obligation on the part of society imposed by the competent authority which have been instrumental in controlling such public health issues and hence referred to as public health legislations.

Public health legislation concerns the legal power and duties of the state to improve the health of the general population (e.g. to identify, prevent and ameliorate risks to health in the population) and the limitations on the power of the state to constrain the autonomy, privacy, liberty, proprietary or other legally protected interests of individuals for the protection or promotion of community health.[1] The scope of public health law is not limited; it is as broad as public health itself and both have expanded a lot to meet the needs of the society.[2]

The objectives of public health legislations are to

  • Protect and promote the health of their population,
  • Sustain the health policies and programs,
  • Prevent ill health resulting from unsafe products and unsafe living conditions,
  • Fight new and re-emerging communicable disease,
  • Support the development of health systems,
  • Combat continuing poverty, inequities in health and discrimination.[3]

The Constitution of India has sufficient provision for the protection, promotion and growth of every individual, worker, groups and vulnerable population in relation to health and nutrition. To achieve these goals, various acts are adopted.

Important Indian legislations in this direction can be grouped into following categories for better understanding.

In CME-I, legislations related to qualifications, substance abuse, public health problems, women, child, older and disable persons is covered while, in CME-II legislations related to commissioning of the hospital, census, occupational health, environment, medico-legal and financial aspects will be covered.

  Laws Governing to the Qualification/Practice and Conduct of Professionals Top

These are the legislations dealing with i) recognition of qualifications ii) for performing technical jobs assigned iii) for maintenance of codes of “conduct and ethics” for hospital staff employed in delivery of the health care. Both the Indian Medical council act and The Dentist act were amended in 2016 to conduct a uniform entrance examination to all medical educational institutions at the undergraduate level and post-graduate level. A medical practitioner may carry out, participate in or work in research projects funded by pharmaceutical and allied health care industries, but has to ensure that the particular project has due permission from the competent authorities and the research project gets clearance from an institutional ethics body as per the amendment of Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) (Amendment) Regulations, 2009 - Part-I”. The NMC Bill, 2017, which seeks to replace the existing apex medical education regulator, the Medical Council of India (MCI), with a new body, was moved by the government in Parliament on December 29, 2017. Recently a parliamentary panel has said the ‘bridge course’, proposed in the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, to allow practitioners of alternative medicines such as homoeopathy and Ayurveda to practice allopathy, should not be made a mandatory provision and the decision should be left to states.
Table 1: Laws Governing to the Qualification/Practice and Conduct of Professionals

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  Laws governing to prevent drug addiction and substance abuse, tobacco control and safe manufacturing of drugs, distribution and storage. Top

These are laws to regulate manufacture, distribution supply and sale of drugs, chemicals, tobacco, blood and blood products and prevent misuse of all these.
Table 2: Legislation for drug addiction &/or substance abuse

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  Laws governing to Prevent Epidemics and disaster Management, and Public Health Problems Top

The Act provides power to exercise for the control and to prevent any epidemic, spread of epidemic, any disasters or public health problems in the states or country and to take such measures if the state feel that the public at large is threatened with an outbreak of any dangerous epidemic or disasters.
Table 3: Laws governing to Prevent Epidemics and disaster Management, and Public Health Problems

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  Laws Governing Women Empowerment and Health Top

Laws pertaining to women in India are broadly defined as constitutional (depicted under various provision of constitution) and legal (under various laws of parliament and state legislations). The rights enshrined in the constitution and various legislations are enlisted below.
Table 4: Laws Governing Women Empowerment and Health

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  Laws governing Child Protection and Health Top

Children being the future workforce of the nation, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure child safety and safeguard their rights. Mentioned below are the rights and laws pertaining to child health in India.
Table 5: Laws governing Child Protection and Health

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  Legislation Governing Old Persons & Welfare Rehabilitation of Disadvantaged Top

These laws ensure maintenance of provision for food, clothing, residence and medical attendance and treatment to lead a better quality of life of elderly and persons with disabilities.
Table 6: Legislation Governing Old Persons & Welfare Rehabilitation of Disadvantaged

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  Conclusion Top

Every public health legislation is ultimately aimed at improving the public health standard in the country. But its utility depends on its proper implementation. It is also necessary to emphasize here the fact that no public health legislation can remain stagnant. Public health legislation has to evolve with the changing health scenario. In a country like India, where the health indicators are yet to reach the desired targets, effective implementation of public health legislations may improve the picture to a certain extent.

  References Top

Gostin LO. A Theory and Definition of Public Health Law. Public Heal Law Power, Duty, Restraint. 2008;12:3-41.  Back to cited text no. 1
Hazarika S, Yadav A, Reddy KS, Prabhakaran D, Jafar TH, Narayan KMV. Public health law in India: a framework for its application as a tool for social change. Natl Med J India [Internet]. 2009;22(4):199-203.  Back to cited text no. 2
Banarjee B. Public Health Legislation in India. DOCTORS PUBLICATIONS.2014 1-8p.  Back to cited text no. 3


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]


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