Indian Journal of Public Health

LETTER TO EDITOR
Year
: 2017  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 148--149

Implementation of epidemic disease act: An experience from a North Indian jurisdiction


Swati Negi1, Avinash Shroff1, Anil Garg2, Gaurav Aggarwal3, Jitendra Kumar Meena4, Sonu Goel5,  
1 MPH Scholar, Department of Community Medicine, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India
2 State Surveillance Officer for Vector Borne Disease Control Program, Department of Health and Family Welfare, UT-Chandigarh, Chandigarh, India
3 Anti Malaria Officer, Department of Health and Family Welfare, UT-Chandigarh, Chandigarh, India
4 Senior Resident, Department of Community and Family Medicine, AIIMS, Jodhpur, India
5 Additional Professor, Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Sonu Goel
Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh
India




How to cite this article:
Negi S, Shroff A, Garg A, Aggarwal G, Meena JK, Goel S. Implementation of epidemic disease act: An experience from a North Indian jurisdiction.Indian J Public Health 2017;61:148-149


How to cite this URL:
Negi S, Shroff A, Garg A, Aggarwal G, Meena JK, Goel S. Implementation of epidemic disease act: An experience from a North Indian jurisdiction. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Dec 14 ];61:148-149
Available from: http://www.ijph.in/text.asp?2017/61/2/148/207401


Full Text

Sir,

Epidemic is defined as the occurrence of diseases or health condition in more than expected frequency.[1] India is endemic to many diseases such as malaria, kala azar, and tuberculosis, which erupt in epidemic form when conditions are favorable for their spread. To control the spread of epidemic, Epidemic Disease Act (EDA) was passed in 1897 in response to plague epidemic in erstwhile Bombay Presidency, and according to its Section 3, there is provision for better prevention and control of spread of various epidemic diseases. With shifting public health priorities, there were changes in the Act in various states, namely, Punjab (Punjab Amendment Act, 1944), Madhya Pradesh (M.P. Act No. 23 of 1958), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (w.e.f. July 1, 1965), Lakshadweep (w.e.f. October 1, 1967), Union Territory of Pondicherry (Act No. 26 of 1968) with regard to introduction of isolation or quarantine of infected patients, travel or movement restrictions, prohibition of mass gatherings, closure of educational and other institutions, compulsory vaccination, etc.[2],[3] In the study, we assessed the status of EDA and challenges encountered in its implementation in Union Territory of Chandigarh. Conventionally, main focus of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme has been primarily on malaria control measures which included environmental management, personal protection, biological control, and chemical control. These measures lacked legal backing and had problems including resistance and noncompliance by the residents and government officials, which had resulted in exponential rise in number of dengue and malaria cases to about five folds in the year 2015 compared with the precedent year. Keeping in view, EDA was invoked in Chandigarh in the year 2015 with the provision of challaning (levying fine to offenders) and mandatorily notifying case of vector-borne diseases to the health department. The public health coordination committee, public health action committee, and rapid response team and epidemic supervisory committee were formed for the implementation of EDA. Notices regarding its implementation were issued in leading newspapers of Chandigarh. Power of issuing caution notices rested with the team supervisors, but challans were levied by the anti-malaria officer. If there was any resistance during the challans and notices, there was the provision of 6 months jail under Sec188 of Indian Penal Code.

In three special drives conducted by 29 inspection teams in October 2015, covering high-risk breeding areas, namely, households, hotels, government offices, schools, market area, and rooftops of sector markets in different parts of city; 550 notices and 75 challans were issued to offenders who violated the provision of EDA. [Figure 1] shows the effect of special drives conducted in Union Territory of Chandigarh. The container index and breteau index drastically decreased after the implementation of drives under EDA [Figure 1].{Figure 1}

During the exercise, we learnt important lessons. Firstly, the coordination between the Department of Health Administration with other departments such as municipal corporation to check the leakage points and stagnation of water, police department for proper enforcement of Act, schools for creating awareness, and Chandigarh administration proved successful in containment of dengue cases in region. Secondly, the awareness among community increased and even private laboratories started reporting positive cases to the authorities. However, few challenges encountered during the implementation of EDA were its poor understanding among public and healthcare staff, lack of skilled staff and public health professionals, poor involvement of private practitioners and medical college to timely report cases, resistance to inspection teams, and frequent transfers of health staff. Few private hospitals came forward for providing free diagnosis testing for suspected dengue cases after the act was implemented. We conclude that barring few challenges, implementation of EDA in Chandigarh in response to dengue epidemic was timely, which helped in containment of epidemic. We recommend that strategic planning and outbreak management should be anticipated before impending outbreak so as to prevent upsurge of malaria and dengue cases. Besides, regular and compulsory reporting of vector-borne cases from the public and private hospitals should be mandated. It is desirable for the public health agencies to learn and share similar experiences for designing an ideal framework for robust implementation of EDA so as to prevent upsurge of vector-borne diseases.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Introduction to epidemiology In Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice. (3rd Ed.), Atlanta, United States. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/ophss/csels/dsepd/ss1978/ss1978.pdf. [Last accessed on 2017 April 14].
2Patro BK, Tripathy JP, Kashyap R. Epidemic diseases act 1897, India: Whether sufficient to address the current challenges? J Mahatma Gandhi Inst Med Sci 2013;18:109-11.
3Epidemic Diseases Act 1897. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Available from. http://www.mohfw.nic.in/showfile.php?lid=1835. [Last cited on 2015 Oct 04].