Standing committee on Home Affairs
What’s in the news?
- The standing committee on Home Affairs has submitted its report to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu.
Need for a comprehensive public health Act
- The standing committee recommended that there should be a comprehensive public health Act with suitable legal provisions to keep checks and controls over private hospitals in times of a pandemic and to curb black marketing of medicines.
- There had been several reported instances of beds reserved for COVID-19 patients in private hospitals being sold at exorbitant rates.
Awareness campaigns on repurposed medicines
- The committee suggested that the government should be proactive by holding awareness campaigns on cheaper and effective repurposed medicines to prevent people from panicking and spending a huge amount of money on expensive drugs.
- The committee observed that in the initial phase of the pandemic, medical insurance was not extended to patients with COVID-19 infection. With exorbitant charges levelled by private hospitals, many had to suffer.
- There is a need to have regulatory oversight on all hospitals working in the country to prevent refusal to accept insurance claims. The committee recommended that the target should be to make COVID-19 treatment cashless for all people that are having insurance coverage.
Separate wing in NDMA
- While appreciating the work done by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) by coming out with standard operating procedures (SOPs), guidelines and awareness generation, and most importantly, acting as a nodal centre for funding manpower deployment to meet exigencies, the committee recommended that a separate wing may be formed in the NDMA that will specialise in handling /managing pandemics like COVID-19 in future.
- This wing may take a leading role in building a partnership of government with the public sector, corporates, NGOs and other stakeholders.
- The committee expressed concern that with schools shut down now for more than nine months, many children were deprived of mid-day meals. Many States continued the scheme by delivering dry ration to students at their homes or giving them allowances. But this was not uniform.
- The committee, therefore, strongly recommended that the Ministry of Home Affairs, along with the Department of Food and Public Distribution, take up the matter with the State governments to ensure that the local administrations are delivering the rations/ allowances in time and this should be continued until the schools reopen.
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