Patil calls for vigilance, coordination to deal with bio-terrorism

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New Delhi, Aug 22 (UNI) Home Minister Shivraj Patil today stressed the need for constant vigilance and better coordination between the Centre and the state governments to meet the looming threat of bio-terrorism.

Releasing the Guidelines on Management of Biological Disasters prepared by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) here, the Home Minister said the psychological effects of such disasters could be far reaching so there was the need for constant vigilance and preparedness.

Describing the task of managing biological disasters as very difficult, he said a lot of money and vision would be needed. He said there would be no shortage of funds, but better cooperation and coordination was required.

The guidelines focus on issues related to health, immediate trauma and suffering, mental health and psychological support, identification of vulnerable groups and creation of community awareness to meet the challenges. Mr Patil emphasised the need for regular updating of the guidelines to suit the changing requirements.

According to the Home Minister, biological disasters could spread like wild fire and biotechnology could be used for causing harm to human beings and genetics can be used as a weapon. He said it was very difficult to predict natural as well as man-made disasters. He said proper cooperation between the Centre and the states as well as between the district and local bodies was necessary to handle biological disasters.

Mr Patil also called for cooperation between the governmental machinery and people at large for managing disaster. He also called for cooperation from civil society and NGOs for better management of such disasters.

The Home Minister complemented the NDMA for coming out with comprehensive guidelines which would benefit the people at large as also the concerned authorities in dealing with biological disasters.

The guidelines are the result of the efforts made by about 200 experts over 18 months. It charts out comprehensive measures for preparedness, capacity development, training, public awareness and strengthening of existing legislative and regulatory framework. The concerned departments/ministries at the Centre, states and districts would make their plans based on the guidelines.

Experts, senior officials from the Indian government and Armed Forces, Research Organisations in the states and management representing hospitals were among those who attended the function.

UNI AJ SKB BD2003

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