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Need a national policy to combat viral diseases

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Disaster and Disaster Management


Source: DTE

Direction: The article highlights key lessons/issues learnt/faced by India during the COVID-19 pandemic and the way ahead.

 Context: According to a parliamentary committee report, a national policy to combat viral and other such diseases which have a pandemic potential is the need of the hour.

Highlights of the report:

  • Title – Covid-19 Pandemic: Global Response, India’s Contributions and the Way Forward.
  • It emphasised the necessity for mechanisms other than the Union Health Ministry’s Crisis Management Plan and the National Disaster Management Authority of India’s Guidelines on Management of Biological Disasters.

Key lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • The importance of regular surveillance measures, keeping in mind how quickly the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutates.
    • So far, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has conducted four sero surveys at the national level.
    • Sero surveys should continue on a regular basis, state-wise, with an increased sample size.
  • The importance of keeping information/results of such surveys easily accessible is to spread awareness and modify behaviours to prevent community transmission of the virus.

Issues raised in the report:

  • Poor implementation of the One Nation One Ration Card scheme among migrant workers.
  • Poor implementation of the Aatmanirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM) and the Skilled Workers Arrival Database for Employment Support.
    • The Ministries of skill development, external affairs and civil aviation launched the two schemes to create a database of the skilled workforce returning to the country under the Vande Bharat Mission.
    • Of the 7,16,662 workers who have returned from Gulf countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, job connect has been established with only 7495 candidates.
  • Lack of financial literacy and awareness about various schemes are creating hurdles.
  • Digital divide exposed: With the education system shifting online during the pandemic, access to education became a challenge.

 Way ahead:

  • A national policy to combat viral and other such diseases which have pandemic potential.
  • The whole of government approach: This would ensure that health issues are accorded the desired priority towards prevention, containment and management of viral and other diseases.
  • Creation of a national database of migrant workers.
  • Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card and other such schemes as it is the lifesaver for migrant workers even in the post-Covid times.
  • Review more comprehensive interventions in the outreach programme of ASEEM.
  • Mechanisms should be chalked out to bridge the digital divide and disseminate online learning through private channels besides the DD channel.


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The COVID-19 pandemic, food and socialising