As of April 17, Madhya Pradesh has 1,120 confirmed cases of COVID-19 - the fifth-highest among all states in India.  The Government of Madhya Pradesh issued one of its initial COVID-19 related orders around January 28, 2020, advising healthcare workers to use appropriate protective gear when examining patients from Wuhan, China.   Since then, the government has taken several actions to contain the spread and impact of COVID-19.  In this blog, we look at key measures taken so far.

Figure 1: Day-wise COVID-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh



Early stages: Focus on screening international travellers

On January 28, the state government issued directions to monitor international travellers from specified countries, test and maintain surveillance on those who are symptomatic.  A further order required district administrators to monitor and report on all passengers who arrived from China between December 31, 2019 and January 29, 2020.  While efforts were largely focused on screening and testing, the first quarantine restrictions for symptomatic travellers from China, entering India after January 15, were imposed on January 31.  Those leaving quarantine were subsequently kept under surveillance and their health conditions reported on for a period of 14 days.  By February 13, a constant presence of a medical team at the airport was required to test foreign passengers from an increasing list of countries and send daily reports.  

February and early March: Improving public health capacity, restricting social gatherings

The next steps from the government were aimed towards adapting the public health infrastructure to handle the evolving situation.  Following are some of the steps taken in this regard:

  • A helpline, with a dedicated call centre, was set up to inform citizens about COVID-19 and its prevention.
  • The regional directors of the Directorate of Health Services, Government of Madhya Pradesh, were instructed to ensure availability of N-95 masks and PPE kits in their region.
  • The Health Department issued guidelines to the Chief Medical and Health Officials in the State regarding the collection and transport of COVID-19 test samples.
  • Medical professionals in public hospitals were ordered to attend a national training.
  • An order was issued to improve arrangements for quarantine and isolation wards.
  • Leaves were cancelled for all employees/officers of the Health Department. 
  • To grant certain rights to establish effective control over outbreak affected areas and take swift actions, section 71 of the Madhya Pradesh Public Health Act, 1949 was invoked.  This section of the Act provides all Chief Medical and Health Officers and Civil Surgeon cum Chief Hospital Superintendents rights set out therein.  

As the number of cases in India increased through March, the MP government turned focus and issued orders directly concerning their citizens.   Several measures were undertaken to spread awareness about COVID-19 and implement social distancing.  

  • dedicated portal was created for COVID-19 related information.  
  • An order was issued to close several establishments including schools, colleges, cinema halls, gyms and swimming pools.  Biometric attendance was stopped at all government workplaces. 
  • On March 20, the government issued an order (effective till June 15) requiring suppliers of masks and sanitizers to: (i) maintain a fixed price and (ii) keep and present fortnightly, a record of purchase and sales of the essential items.  The order also prevented them from refusing to sell to any customer. 

March 21 Onwards

On March 21, MP reported four cases of COVID-19. On March 23, the government released the Madhya Pradesh Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19 Regulations 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state.  These regulations specify special administrative powers and protocol for hospitals (government and private) to follow while treating COVID-19 patients. These regulations are valid for one year. Over and above general instructions to maintain social distancing and personal hygiene, the government has undertaken specific measures to: (i) increase healthcare capacity, (ii) institute welfare protection for the economically vulnerable population, (iii) strengthen the administrative structure and data collection, and (iv) ensure supply of essential goods and services.  These measures include-

Healthcare measures

  • Preparation of hospitals for the treatment of COVID-19 including postponing elective surgeries, ensuring an adequate supply of PPE kits. 
  • On March 28, the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre was designated as a state-level COVID-19 hospital.  This order was reversed on April 15. 
  • District collectors were empowered to appoint doctors and other healthcare workers as required in their districts in a fast-tracked manner.
  • Establishing a telemedicine unit in each of the 51 district hospitals
  • Facilitating the appointment of final year undergraduate nursing students as nurses
  • On March 29, the government launched the SAARTHAK app for daily monitoring and tracking of quarantined and corona positive patients
  • The government released a strategy document to contain COVID-19. This strategy places emphasis on identification of suspected cases, isolation, testing of high-risk contacts, and treatment (called the I. I. T. T. strategy)

Welfare measures

  • One-time financial assistance of Rs 1,000 will be provided to construction labourers
  • One-time financial assistance of Rs 2,000 will be provided to families of Sahariya, Baiga and Bharia tribes
  • Social security pensions for two months will be paid in advance to pensioners
  • People without eligibility slips under the National Food Security Scheme to be allowed to receive ration 

Administrative measures

  • Senior officials were designated to coordinate with various states to resolve issues regarding migrant labour.
  • District Crisis Management groups were formed to coordinate state-level policy and the local implementation machinery.

Supply of essential goods and services

  • On April 8, the government implemented the Essential Services Management Act,1979. The Act among other things, prohibits anyone employed in essential services to refuse to work.
  • E-pass procurement facility was started to ensure smooth inter-district and across states flow of essential goods & services.  

For more information on the spread of COVID-19 and the central and state government response to the pandemic, please see here.

The National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021 is listed for passage in Rajya Sabha today.  It was passed by Lok Sabha last week.  The Bill creates a regulatory framework for anti-doping rule violations in sports.  It was examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports, and some of their recommendations have been incorporated in the Bill passed by Lok Sabha.  

Doping is the consumption of certain prohibited substances by athletes to enhance performance.  Across the world, doping is regulated and monitored by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which is an independent international agency established in 1999.   WADA’s primary role is to develop, harmonise, and coordinate anti-doping regulations across all sports and countries.   It does so by ensuring proper implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code (WADA Code) and its standards.  In this blog post, we discuss the need of the framework proposed by the Bill, and give insights from the discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha.  

Doping in India

Recently, two Indian athletes failed the doping test and are facing provisional suspension.   In the past also, Indian athletes have been found in violation of anti-doping rules.  In 2019, according to WADA, most of the doping rule violations were committed by athletes from Russia (19%), followed by Italy (18%), and India (17%).  Most of the doping rule violations were committed in bodybuilding (22%), followed by athletics (18%), cycling (14%), and weightlifting (13%).  In order to curb doping in sports, WADA requires all countries to have a framework regulating anti-doping activities managed by their respective National Anti-Doping Organisations.  

Currently, doping in India is regulated by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which was established in 2009 as an autonomous body under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.  One issue with the existing framework is that the anti-doping rules are not backed by a legislation and are getting challenged in courts.  Further, NADA is imposing sanctions on athletes without a statutory backing.   Taking into account such instances, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2021) had recommended that the Department of Sports bring in an anti-doping legislation.   Other countries such as the USA, UK, Germany, and Japan have enacted legislations to regulate anti-doping activities.  

Framework proposed by the National Anti-Doping Bill, 2021

The Bill seeks to constitute NADA as a statutory body headed by a Director General appointed by the central government.  Functions of the Agency include planning, implementing and monitoring anti-doping activities, and investigating anti-doping rule violations.  A National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel will be set up for determining consequences of anti-doping rule violations.  This panel will consist of legal experts, medical practitioners, and retired athletes.  Further, the Board will constitute an Appeal Panel to hear appeals against decisions of the Disciplinary Panel.  Athletes found in violation of anti-doping rules may be subject to: (i) disqualification of results including forfeiture of medals, points, and prizes, (ii) ineligibility to participate in a competition or event for a prescribed period, (iii) financial sanctions, and (iv) other consequences as may be prescribed.  Consequences for team sports will be specified by regulations.   

Initially, the Bill did not have provisions for protected athletes but after the Standing Committee’s recommendation, provisions for such athletes have been included in the Bill.  Protected persons will be specified by the central government.  As per the WADA Code, a protected person is someone: (i) below the age of 16, or (ii) below the age of 18 and has not participated in any international competition in an open category, or (iii) lacks legal capacity as per their country’s legal framework

Issues and discussion on the Bill in Lok Sabha

During the discussion on the Bill, members highlighted several issues.  We discuss these below-

Independence of NADA 

One of the issues highlighted was the independence of the Director General of NADA.  WADA requires National Doping Organisations to be independent in their functioning as they may experience external pressure from their governments and national sports bodies which could compromise their decisions.  First, under the Bill, the qualifications of the Director General are not specified and are left to be notified through Rules.  Second, the central government may remove the Director General from the office on grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity or “such other ground”.  Leaving these provisions to the discretion of the central government may affect the independence of NADA. 

Privacy of athletes

NADA will have the power to collect certain personal data of athletes such as: (a) sex or gender, (ii) medical history, and (iii) whereabout information of athletes (for out of competition testing and collection of samples).  MPs expressed concerns about maintaining the privacy of athletes.  The Union Sports Minister in his response, assured the House that all international privacy standards will be followed during collection and sharing of data.  Data will be shared with only relevant authorities.

Under the Bill, NADA will collect and use personal data of athletes in accordance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.   It is one of the eight ‘mandatory’ standards of the World Anti-Doping Code.  One of the amendments moved by the Union Sports Minister removed the provision relating to compliance with the International Standard for the Protection of Privacy and Personal Information.

Establishing more testing laboratories across states

Currently India has one National Dope Testing Laboratory (NDTL).  MPs raised the demand to establish testing laboratories across states to increase testing capacity.  The Minister responded by saying that if required in the future, the government will establish more testing laboratories across states.  Further, in order to increase testing capacity, private labs may also be set up.   The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) also emphasised the need to open more dope testing laboratories, preferably one in each state, to cater to the need of the country and become a leader in the South East Asia region in the areas of anti-doping science and education.

In August, 2019 a six-month suspension was imposed on NDTL for not complying with International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) by WADA.  The suspension was extended for another six months in July, 2020 due to non-conformity with ISL.  The second suspension was to remain in effect until the Laboratory complies with ISL.  However, the suspension was extended for another six months in January, 2021 as COVID-19 impacted WADA’s ability to conduct an on-site assessment of the Laboratory.  In December, 2021 WADA reinstated the accreditation of NDTL.

Raising awareness 

Several athletes in India are not aware about the anti-doping rules and the prohibited substances.  Due to lack of awareness, they end up consuming prohibited substances through supplements.  MPs highlighted the need to conduct more awareness campaigns around anti-doping.  The Minister informed the House that in the past one year, NADA has conducted about 100 hybrid workshops relating to awareness on anti-doping.   The Bill will enable NADA to conduct more awareness campaigns and research in anti-doping.  Further, the central government is working with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to test dietary supplements consumed by athletes.  

While examining the Bill, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Sports (2022) recommended several measures to improve and strengthen the antidoping ecosystem in the country.  These measures include: (i) enforcing regulatory action towards labelling and use of ‘dope-free’ certified supplements, and (ii) mandating ‘dope-free’ certification by independent bodies for supplements consumed by athletes.