Print Friendly, PDF & Email



The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday gave an official name to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The disease will now be called “COVID-19”; the “CO” stands for coronavirus, “VI” for virus and “D” for disease. The coronavirus itself is being called “nCoV-2019”.

What considerations does the WHO take into account while naming new human infectious diseases?

The WHO, in consultation and collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), has identified the best practices for naming new human diseases, “with the aim to minimize unnecessary negative impact of disease names on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare, and avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups”.

These best practices apply to those new diseases that can be classified as an infection, syndrome, or disease of humans; a disease that has never been recognised before in humans; has potential health impact and in those cases where no disease name is established in common usage.

Significantly, as per the WHO, the assigning of an “appropriate” disease name is necessary by those who first report a new human disease, especially given the rapid and global communication through social media and other electronic means. In case an inappropriate name has started circulating, the WHO may assign an interim name and recommend its use.

Furthermore, names that are assigned by the WHO may or may not be approved by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) at a later stage. The ICD, which is also managed by the WHO, provides a final standard name for each human disease according to standard guidelines that are aimed at reducing the negative impact from names while balancing science, communication and policy.



On Friday, a BJP member in Rajya Sabha appeared to abandon his plan of introducing a private member’s Bill on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), a code that would be applicable to all religious communities in personal matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption.

What is a private member’s Bill?

An MP who is not a minister is a private member and while both private members and ministers take part in the lawmaking process, Bills introduced by private members are referred to as private member’s Bills and those introduced by ministers are called government Bills.

Government Bills are backed by the government and also reflect its legislative agenda. The admissibility of a private Bill is decided by the Chairman in the case of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker in the case of the Lok Sabha.

Before the Bill can be listed for introduction, the Member must give at least a month’s notice, for the House Secretariat to examine it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation. While a government Bill can be introduced and discussed on any day, a private member’s bill can only be introduced and discussed on Fridays.

Has a private member’s bill ever become a law?

As per PRS Legislative, no private member’s Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. To date, Parliament has passed 14 such Bills, six of them in 1956.

In the 14th Lok Sabha, of the over 300 private member’s Bills introduced, roughly four per cent were discussed, the remaining 96 per cent lapsed without a single dialogue.

The selection of Bills for discussion is done through a ballot.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: