India getting ready to face biological war from terrorists

August 22nd, 2008 - 6:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) India Friday released its biological disaster management guidelines with a focus on preparing for biological warfare from terrorists using bacteria and viruses.The guidelines also emphasise developing a medical network to handle critical situations.

“While biological warfare does not appear to be a global threat, the use of some agents such as anthrax by terrorist groups poses a serious threat,” stated the guidelines, which were released by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil here.

“The ease of production, packaging and delivery using existing non-military facilities are major factors in the threat perception. The threat posed by bio-terrorism is nearly as great as that by natural epidemic-causing agents,” underlined the guidelines.

“Biotechnology is fascinating as well as frightening,” Patil said urging the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to “sensitise and prepare people to face any disaster with minimum loss of life and property”.

The guidelines also speak of establishing an early warning system and coordination between public health medical care and intelligence agencies to prevent bio-terrorism.

NDMA Vice-chairman N.C. Vij, a retired Army chief, said besides bio-terrorism, the guidelines also focus on several problems like bird flu, plague and other such pandemics.

“There is a need to develop emergency medical centres, mobile hospitals and faster DNA identification system. When we prepare to face biological disaster, the country should not ignore international cooperation,” Vij told IANS.

Lt. Gen. (Retd) J.R. Bharadwaj, a member of NDMA, quoted the guidelines and said in case of a biological disaster, the country must stock enough personal protective equipment. This will stop the spread of disease to people who come in contact with the disease while combating it.

The guidelines emphasise that mobile tele-health services, and networking of hospitals, ambulance service and state police departments are a must for biological disaster management.

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