Indian J Med Ethics. 2022 Jun 4;-(-):1-7. doi: 10.20529/IJME.2022.039. Online ahead of print.
Despite the relative decline in communicable diseases, India witnesses hundreds of outbreaks every year. Including the current Covid-19 pandemic, India has suffered through several major pandemics and large-scale epidemics since 1900s. However, the response to most of the epidemics has been inadequate. The Epidemic Diseases Act, enacted in 1897 (EDA 1897), has been in action since and is based on the science and the socio-political environment of the country in the nineteenth century. India has several legal mechanisms to help contain and control the spread of epidemics, but on different platforms. There has been a paradigm shift in the socio-political milieu as well as scientific advancements in the prevention and control of epidemics. The century-old EDA 1897 has not been effective in containing and controlling such epidemics/pandemics, as has been witnessed during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Hence, it needs to be revised to define an appropriate structural scalar chain, provide clear-cut and unambiguous terms/definitions and guidelines, delineate ethics and human rights, determine the duties and responsibilities of the affected population/community, determine the role of the private health sector, and provide for appropriate punitive measures to deter repeated violations.