What is Bio- terrorism ? What is the need for bio-terrorism law in India? Discuss various measures taken by India and at International level to counter it.
Bioterrorism is a planned and deliberate use of pathogenic strains of microorganisms. such as bacteria, viruses, or their toxins to spread life-threatening diseases on a mass scale in order to devastate the population of an area.
Need for Bio terrorism law in India
- India’s high vulnerability: High population density, Inadequate medical facilities, subtropical climatic conditions, poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation facilities make India extremely susceptible for such attacks.
- Control its impact on society: Bioterrorism causes damage, fear, and anxiety among people and affects the society and government of a country. These biological weapons can cause large-scale mortality and morbidity in large populations and create civil disruption in the shortest possible time. • Increase in attacks due to advancement in technology: In this era of biotechnology and nanotechnology has created an easy accessibility to more sophisticated biologic agents apart from the conventional bacteria, viruses and toxins.
Various measures taken by India and at International level to counter it
Deterrence by law: Structured legislation is an essential element of national preparedness against bioterrorism and for being punished for the act perpetrated.
o For this need to introduce Public Health Bill on the line of Public Health (Prevention, Control and Management of epidemics, bio-terrorism and disasters) Bill-2017, which defined terms epidemic, isolation, quarantine and social distancing, but lapsed.
o Bill also needs to repeal the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897, which is not specific to biological threat and does not define terms.
- Prevention: This is to be done through examining the risk of bioterror attacks, case studies, prevention of attacks, preparation and training of law enforcement personnel, and the related legal and political framework to reduce opportunity and enhanced intelligence.
- Surveillance and assessment: This can be done by recognizing patterns of non-specific syndromes and assessing them, that could indicate the early manifestations of a biological warfare attack.
- Laboratory investigation: Primary healthcare providers, laboratory staff, are the first responders and will most likely identify the initial cases.
o Hence in conjunction with infection control and administrative personnel should develop both laboratory- and institution-wide response plans for diagnosis and characterization of the biological organism.
- Medical management: It should include preventive, promotive, and curative services like Chemoprevention to prevent the spread of the disease, through identifying the category of population to be given chemoprophylaxis, availability of the requisite quantity of drugs or vaccine; and outline of the mechanism of administration with health infrastructure.
- General public sensitization: This can be done by law enforcing agencies, through training and education, warning networks at hospitals and public health agencies etc.
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