We as members of the human race are currently in the midst of the biggest clinical crisis the world has ever witnessed. A Pandemic much popularly feared now as the Coronavirus Pandemic or COVID 19 Pandemic has been raging at full swing claiming millions of vulnerable lives one after another.
Believed to have originated from a food market in Wuhan, China with the main transporting agent being bat and pangolin, the epidemic has taken a huge scale and has impacted each and every region of the world with more or less intensity. While some countries like the United States of America, Brazil, and India have borne the major brunt of the virus, others like New Zealand and Sweden much smaller in scale and much more organized in medical ethics have been able to curb the ill impacts of the virus to some extent.
India undoubtedly has been the worst affected country from the virus after the USA. In terms of exponential growth in infection rate, India has topped the charts recording close to 1,00,000 cases on a daily basis. The fact that India has a population of 1.3 billion people does not augur well for the country since it would require much more amount of time to test each and every individual and attain herd immunity, a phenomenon where almost 60% of a country's population would have already contracted the virus and would become immune to it by developing the specific immunogen in their body.
One thing that Coronavirus has quite blatantly exposed in the existing inadequacies in the medical and pharmaceutical structure in the Indian economy. With a majority of the people still lying below the poverty line while a chunk of the businessman crop away on the majority of the profits generated through corporate activities, with unemployment and contraction in Gross Domestic Product Rates at an all-time high, it is quite easily identifiable that the medical structure in the country is not as well balanced and developed as other countries with a much higher per capita income.
The Indian Pharmaceutical and the Medical Devices sector has been running under the supervision of the Union Home Ministry for the longest duration of time. There are several individual legal and regulatory bodies that undertake the work and functioning of the various departmental activities. Owing to the advanced and technically well-educated doctors in India and with the wave of globalization since the 1990's there have been many large Multinational Corporations who have set up their business in India.
India has been the prime exporters of medicines like Azithromycin, Paracetamol, and Hydroxychloroquine to far developed countries in the world like Europe and the United States of America.
Owing to the pandemic and the temporary closure of domestic activities, the production cycle in the majority of countries got disrupted to a huge extent. Thus the inadequacies in the structural framework and medical devices market and Pharmaceutical markets were clearly visible.
Thus, there has been a voice regarding the creation of an exclusive ministry and department for the monitoring of the activities regulated by the medical devices and Pharmaceutical market. Many private companies as well have raised voice for the creation of a regulatory body which will not only ensure that a significant portion of the annual Government budget is allocated towards this purpose but they will also ensure that the funds are utilized for the construction of proper lab facilities and the distribution of the required devices to each and every section of the society.
Different ministries have shared their respective viewpoints on the issue. Moreover, a consensus had been reached that a single ministry under the supreme authority of the Central Government or the PMO would be functioning in the pharma regulation structure so that it can maintain independence in functioning. But due to the several legal formalities existent in our state of law, binding ratification could not be formulated.
There was a significant protest movement regarding the establishment of such a regulatory body through the actions of the Central Government in 2008. Ratifications were also passed in order to start the developmental work in relation to the establishment of such regulatory authority.
Thus it is obvious that we require a separate ministry for the control and regulation of pharmaceutical devices since in times of medical emergency, the ministry would have the administrative authority to completely regulate the rationing of such devices in the market to the consumers. Moreover it is also imperative to prioritize the supply and ration the distribution of the devices according to the priority of the user.