Saturday, Aug 30, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
The approval came at the conclusion of a two-day conference of the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare. The Council is the highest policy-making body in the health sector, comprising of State Health Ministers and representatives of national and international agencies involved in the area of health.
Addressing a press conference, the Union Health Minister, Sushma Swaraj, said the participants unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the Centre's proposal to include drinking water as a food item under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, as the first step towards setting quality standards for it. Likewise, support was also extended to the proposal to impose death sentence for manufacture and sale of spurious drugs that cause deaths or grievous injuries. The meeting also recommended to the Centre to pursue the long pending Bill to prescribe the two-child norm as a condition for candidates contesting for elections to Parliament and State Assemblies. The Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 1997 and has been pending since then for want of a political consensus. The proposal to revive it was mooted by the Rajasthan Health Minister, Tayyab Hussain, and seconded by his Bihar colleague.
Ms. Swaraj said the Centre would soon initiate a move to revamp the Medical Council Act in the light of the demands of the State Ministers to make it "more democratic, accountable and realistic.'' The Ministers, she said, had expressed reservations over some of the provisions of the Act such as the minimum size of the plot that was prescribed under the Act for starting new medical colleges. "We would examine all the points made by the Ministers and come out with corrective measures''.
On whether the proposal to revive the Bill on two-child norm for Parliament and Assembly elections did not go against international conventions, which disfavoured coercion as a means for population stabilisation, Ms. Swaraj said the Bill could not be described as a coercive measure as there was no force involved. It was more a disincentive.
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