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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 74-77

Public health updates from October 2019 to April 2020

Department of Community Medicine and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Date of Submission07-Apr-2020
Date of Decision15-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance17-Apr-2020
Date of Web Publication5-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Annu Antony
Department of Community Medicine and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, Odisha
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJCFM.IJCFM_28_20

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Public health is a very dynamic area, were the policies, guidelines, management is continuously monitored and amended to the current situation. Epidemics and pandemics are now frequent and more widespread due to globalization. In this scenario, being updated in public health related news and changes are must for an effective community medicine practice. Our article concisely presents all the relevant updates from the month of October 2019 to April 2020. This article discusses the timeline of COVID-19 pandemic in this period, Ebola epidemic, new changes in national programs, new amendments in National Policies or Acts, new schemes implemented, and also discusses the yearly themes of international and national days related to public health celebrated during the time frame.

Keywords: Corona, Ebola, medical termination of pregnancy, national programs, public health updates

How to cite this article:
Antony A, Akshaya R, Nair J. Public health updates from October 2019 to April 2020. Indian J Community Fam Med 2020;6:74-7

How to cite this URL:
Antony A, Akshaya R, Nair J. Public health updates from October 2019 to April 2020. Indian J Community Fam Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Apr 18];6:74-7. Available from: https://www.ijcfm.org/text.asp?2020/6/1/74/286022

  Outbreaks Top

Coronavirus disease 19

With 900,000 confirmed cases and 45,000 deaths, with 206 countries affected, as of April 1, 2020, coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) is one of the largest and widespread outbreaks of the century.[1] A pneumonia of unknown origin was first reported from the city of Wuhan in the Republic of China on December 31, 2019. On January 13, 2020, the outbreak was declared as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) when the disease spread to 18 countries. On February 11, 2020, the novel coronavirus was named as COVID-19. COVID-19 was categorized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11. On March 13, Europe with most of the cases and deaths than other countries was identified as a new epicenter, after new cases reported in China were decreasing and were less than Europe. The UN launched COVID-19 global humanitarian response plan to fund for providing laboratory materials, personal protective equipment kits, and medical equipment and to decrease the water and sanitation shortages. It also launched a Solidarity Trial to generate robust data around the world to find the most effective treatment for COVID.[2]

As of 1st week of April 2020, India have nearly 4000 cases with 114 deaths.[3] The tolls are raising daily, with the highest number of cases in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. The first case was reported in India on Januvary 30, 2020, in a student returned to Kerala from Wuhan. On March 22, The Prime Minister called for a 14-h Jananta curfew to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.[4] With crossing the 500 cases marked, India went for 21 days lockdown on March 25.[5]

  Ebola Top

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a deadly disease in humans with 50% mortality rates, more common in African regions. EVD first appeared in 1976. The 2018–2019 outbreak in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most recent. The insecurity adversely affected the public health response activities. The year 2020 showed improvement in the control of epidemic. In 2020, the number of cases recorded per week has declined dramatically and no new case was recorded after 17 February.[6] The situation continues to improve – as on March 6, no new cases had been recorded for 18 consecutive days; however, the WHO has not declared outbreak is over yet. The WHO withdrew the PHEIC earlier in February 2020. The outbreak will be declared over if no cases are recorded for 42 consecutive days across all health zones after a second negative test from the last patient.[7]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Ebola Vaccine Recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV, tradename “Ervebo”) for the prevention of EVD. However, the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine has been found to be safe and protective against only the ZEBOV species of Ebola virus.[8]

  Events Top

World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day was celebrated on October 10. The focus was on suicide prevention, with a theme of “A day for 40 seconds of action.” The motives were improving awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improving knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reducing the stigma associated with suicide; and letting people who are struggling know that they are not alone.[9]

World Polio Day

World Polio Day was celebrated on October 24 with the theme being “Stories of Progress: Past and Present.” The global certification commission certified the eradication of Wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3). The last case of WPV3 was detected in Northern Nigeria in 2012. WPV2 was declared eradicated from the world in 2015. The world also celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Polio Free Status of Regions of Americas.[10]

World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day was celebrated on November 14, 2019, with the theme: The Family and Diabetes (same as 2018). The theme aimed at raising awareness about the impact that diabetes has on the family and support network of those affected.[11]

World Health Day

World Health Day was celebrated on April 7, with a theme of “Support Nurses and Midwives.” It highlighted the current status of nurse and midwife around the world, acknowledged the role of nurses and other healthcare workers, and made a series of recommendations to strengthening of nurse and midwifery workforce.[12]

World Tuberculosis Day

World Tuberculosis (TB) day, commemorating the discovery of the TB Bacilli by Dr. Robert Koch, was celebrated on March 24, with the theme “It's Time.” It meant “Its Time to End TB.” The focus of this year is on urgently accelerating the TB response to save lives and end suffering, building on high-level commitments by the heads of state at the 2018 UN high-level meeting on TB with spotlight on the prevention of TB.[13] Earlier this year, an app for global TB report was launched to make comprehensible data available for all.[14] World TB day urged every country to accelerate the END TB responses with focus on achieving the targets, diagnose, treatment, preventive treatment and to invest in TB research.

National Deworming Day

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conducted 10th round of National Deworming Day (NDD) on February 10. This was followed up the mop-up day on February 17, 2020. Every year, February 10 and August 10 are observed as the NDD. The day aims at eradicating intestinal worms also known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH), among children aged 1–19 years. As part of this campaign, children and adolescents aged 1–19 years are being administered Albendazole (400 mg) across government, government-aided schools, anganwadis, private schools, and other educational institutions. According to the WHO (2017), India has over 22 crore children under 14 years at risk of STH infections. This year, 19 states took up activities to reach 9.35 crore of the target population. Rest of the states are expected to complete the target by April 2020.[15]


The WHO released the Seventh Report on Global Tobacco Epidemic: Offer help to quit tobacco.[14] The report said that now, one in three people has comprehensive support to quit tobacco and two in three are covered by at least one best practice tobacco control measure (MPOWER).

  National Programs Top

National Tuberculosis Elimination Program

Revised National TB Control Program was given a facelift in line with the WHO's End TB Strategy to eliminate TB by 2025 and renamed as National TB Elimination Program (NTEP).[16] The NTEP was renamed as a part of national strategic plan 2017–2025, with the goal to achieve a rapid decline in burden of TB, morbidity, and mortality while working toward the elimination of TB in India by 2025. The strategy includes – TREAT-PREVENT-BUILD.[17]

Intensified Mission Indradanush 2.0

Intensified Mission Indradanush 2.0 aims to immunize children under 2 years of age and pregnant women against eight vaccine preventable disease. It was launched across India on December 2, 2019. It consists of four rounds over 7 working days - between December 2019 and March 2020, around 271 districts from all other states and 109 districts from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The first round was on December 10, followed by round 2 and 3 on January 6 and February 3–7, respectively.[18] The mission focuses on dropouts, left-outs, and resistant families and hard-to-reach areas, with concentrating on urban, underserved population, and tribal areas. India's annual immunization growth rate has risen to 4%, with a 16% increase in the number of fully immunized children. During the various phases of Mission Indradhanush including Gram Swaraj Abihayan and Extended Gram Swaraj, a total of 3.61 crore children and 91.45 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated, across 690 districts in 36 states/UTs.[19]

  Amendmends and Guidelines Top

National immunization schedule

Rotavirus vaccine

Rotavirus vaccine is now available in 28 states/UTs. Rotavirus vaccine was introduced in 2016 in a phased manner, initially in four states only. Later, it expanded to seven more states by the end of 2018. By September 2019, it is aimed to implement in all states in India. The initiative is taken as a part to end morbidity and mortality in children due to diarrhea by 2022.[20]

Medical termination of pregnancy amendment 2020

The medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) act was passed in 1971, with restrictions of abortion up to 20 weeks with at least two medical practitioners. In January 2020, the bill for amendment of MTP act was passed. The new bill increased the upper limit of pregnancy to 24 weeks and requires only one medical practitioner up to 20 weeks of gestation.

Accordingly, the MTP (amendment) Bill, 2020, inter alia, provides for:

  1. Requirement of opinion of one registered medical practitioner for the termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation
  2. Requirement of opinion of two registered medical practitioners for the termination of pregnancy of 20–24 weeks of gestation
  3. Enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for such category of woman as may be prescribed by rules in this behalf
  4. Nonapplicability of the provisions relating to the length of pregnancy in cases where the termination of pregnancy is necessitated by the diagnosis of any of the substantial fetal abnormalities diagnosed by a medical board
  5. Protection of privacy of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated.[21]

  Schemes Top

Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan

It was launched on October 10, 2019, by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. The aims are (1) assured dignified and quality health care at no cost; (2) zero tolerance for denial of services in public health facility; (3) end all preventable maternal and newborn death; (4) provide a positive birthing experience. The beneficiaries include all pregnant women, mothers up to 6 months postdelivery, and all sick newborn. The key highlights are free ANC, delivery and postnatal care, free management of sick neonates, assured delivery plans for high-risk pregnant women, ensuring quality standards at all level of delivery points, and service guarantee charter (18 services). The key features include 100% reporting and review of maternal death, first responder of maternal death to get Rs. 1000, free transport from home to health institutions and drop-back, assured referral services with scope of reaching health facility within 1 h, and choice of delayed cord clamping beyond 5 min or up to delivery of the placenta.[22]


The authors would like to thank all participants who participated in this study.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Covid19 Situation Report. World Health Organization; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/corona viruse/situation-reports/20200401-sitrep-72-co vid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=3dd8971b_2. [Last cited on 2020 Apr 02].  Back to cited text no. 1
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Events as they Happen. Available from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 07].  Back to cited text no. 2
MoHFW. COVID-19 India Status. Available from: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 07].  Back to cited text no. 3
Our Bureau. PM Modi Calls for 'Janata Curfew' on March 22 from 7 AM-9 PM-The Hindu BusinessLine. The Hindu; 20 March, 2020. Available from: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/ne ws/pm-modi-calls-for-janta-cur few-on-march-22-from-7-am-9-p m/article31110155.ece#. [Last cited 2020 Apr 20].  Back to cited text no. 4
PM Calls for Complete Lockdown of Entire Nation for 21 Days PM Addresses the Nation on COVID-19. Delhi: Prime MInister's Office; 2020. Available from: https://pib.gov.in/PressRelese Detail.aspx?PRID=1608009. [Last accessed on Apr 07].  Back to cited text no. 5
World Health Organization. Ebola Virus Disease: Democratic Republic of the Congo; 2019. p. 1-12. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/324996/SITREP_EVD_DRC_20190528-eng.pdf?ua=1%0Ahttps://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/ebola-virus-disease. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 01].  Back to cited text no. 6
Kivu S. Interruption of Human-to-Human Transmission – The Definition of the “ end of the Outbreak “ Recommended Response Activities During and After the 42-Day Observation Period; March, 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/who-documents-det ail/who-recommended-criteria-for-de claring-the- end-of-the-ebola-virus-disease-outbreak. [Last accessed on Apr 07].  Back to cited text no. 7
Henao-restrepo AM, Camacho A, Longini IM, Watson CH, Edmunds WJ, Egger M, et al. Effi cacy and eff ectiveness of an rVSV-vectored vaccine in preventing Ebola virus disease: Fi nal results from the Guinea ring vaccination, open-label, cluster-randomised trial (Ebola Ça Suffi t!). Lancet 2017:505-18. Available from: https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/jour nals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736 (16) 32621-6.pdf. [Last accessed on Apr 07].  Back to cited text no. 8
World Health Organization. World mental health day 2019: Focus on suicide prevention 2019;12:1-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
World Polio Day 2019. CDC; 2019. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/immunization/wpd/index.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 25].  Back to cited text no. 10
Key Messages-World Diabetes Day. International Diabetes Federation; 2019. Available from: https://worlddiabetesday.org/about/key-messages/. [Last accessed on 2019 Dec 20].  Back to cited text no. 11
World Health Day 2020. World Health Organization; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/campaigns/world-health-day/world-health-day-2020. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 03].  Back to cited text no. 12
World TB Day. Nature Reviews Microbiology; 2020;2:360. Available from: file:///C:/Users/annu/Desktop/phu article/World TB Day 2020.html. [Last accessed on 2020 Mar 25].  Back to cited text no. 13
lfare. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conducts the tenth round of the National Deworming Day (NDD). Press Information Bureau; 2019. Available from: http://www.pib.nic.in. [Last cited 2020 Feb 11].  Back to cited text no. 15
RNTCP Gets a Name Change, Now Called National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP). Available from: https://medicaldialogues.in/rntcp-get s-a-name-change- now-called-national-tube rculosis-elimination- program-ntep. [Last cited 2020 Jan 03].  Back to cited text no. 16
Central TB Division, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis Elimination 2017-25; 2017. Available from: https://tbcindia.gov.in/WriteRead Data/National Strategic Plan 2017-25.pdf. [Last cited 2020 Mar 23].  Back to cited text no. 17
Bhadoria AS, Mishra S, Singh M, Kishore S. National Immunization Programme – Mission Indradhanush Programme: Newer Approaches and Interventions. Indian J Pediatr. 2019;86:633-8. Available from: https://link.springer.com/articl e/10.1007%2Fs12098-019-02880-0. [Last cited 2020 Mar 13].  Back to cited text no. 18
Government of India M of health and family welfare. Intensified Mission Indradhanush. Press Information Bureau; 2020. p. 2-3. Available from: https://pib.gov.in/newsite/Print Release.aspx?relid=199090. [Last cited 2020 Feb 23].  Back to cited text no. 19
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Dr. Harsh Vardhan hails the NMC Act 2019 as Historic, Path-Breaking and a Game-Changer; 2019. p. 186586. Available from: http://www.pib.nic.in. [Last cited 2019 Oct 20].  Back to cited text no. 20
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill 2020 [Internet]. Vol. 31. Minister of Health and Family Welfare; 2020 Available from: [Last cited 2020 Feb 22].  Back to cited text no. 21
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