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Q.1) A report of the Lancet Commission on pollution and health states that people die prematurely every year from diseases caused by outdoor and indoor air pollution. In this context highlight the main causes of air pollution.  How can this crisis be solved? (GS-3)

A report of the Lancet Commission on pollution and health states that around 19 lakh people die prematurely every year from diseases caused by outdoor and indoor air pollution.

A study by the Indian Journal of Pediatrics shows that the lungs of children who grow up in polluted environments like Delhi are 10% smaller compared to the lungs of children who grow up in the U.S.

Main causes of Air pollution

At the heart of the problem of pollution are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. About 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions are CO2 emissions produced through burning fossil fuels — oil, coal and natural gas — to generate energy.

  • Since the early 2000s, carbon emissions have increased because of high growth in the Indian economy.
  •  In 2014, India’s total carbon emissions were more than three times the levels in 1990, as per World Bank data.
  • This is because of India’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels and a dramatically low level of energy efficiency.

How can this crisis be solved?

Air pollution and climate change are closely linked and share common solutions.

Fossil fuel combustion in higher-income countries and the burning of biomass in lower-income countries accounts for 85% of airborne particulate pollution and is a major source of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that drive climate change.

Remodel the energy mix

Emissions can be curbed only if people are persuaded to move away from fossil fuels and adopt greener forms of energy.

  • A part of the carbon revenue thus generated can be used for a systemic overhaul of the energy mix, which, to a large extent, would address the pressing problem of environmental degradation.
  • The Indian economy’s energy mix needs to be remodelled through investments in clean renewable sources of energy like solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and low-emissions bioenergy,
  • Raise the level of energy efficiency through investments in building retrofits, grid upgrades, and industrial efficiency.
  • Carbon tax can be a key policy instrument in helping the country meets the challenges posed by Air pollution.

There is, however, a problem with carbon tax. It’s regressive in nature — it affects the poor more than the rich.

Conclusion

Reducing pollution presents a powerful opportunity to save lives and grow economies. Better way to curb pollution is to tax carbon. Accelerating the switch to cleaner sources of energy will reduce air pollution and improve human and planetary health.

Government also needs to integrate pollution challenges and control strategies into planning processes. Collaborate on solving pollution with development agencies. Design and implement programs that reduce pollution, and save lives.

Q.2) With a huge demand for innovation in drugs and material devices to address the rising disease burden, the demand for the creation of clinical trials in the country has come to the fore. In the light of the statement discuss the need for local clinical trials and what are the roadblocks in this? (GS-2)

With a huge demand for innovation in drugs and material devices to address the rising disease burden, the demand for the creation of clinical trials in the country has come to the fore.

Need for local clinical trials:

Epidemiological transition, in recent decades, compounded with the burgeoning population as well as widespread malnutrition and poverty, have resulted in the steep rise in both communicable and non-communicable diseases in the country, across all age groups. To counter this rising burden of disease, there is a compelling need for local clinical trials.

After a peak in 2009-2010, the clinical research sector in India is continually contracting. India represents 17.5% of the world’s population but conducts only 1.4% of global clinical research. This is unfortunate, considering we have all the requisite factors, such as English-speaking health-care professionals, a large number of experts, steady economic growth, access to world-class technologies, strong IT- and data-management infrastructure, access to ethnically diverse patient populations and competitive operational costs. All these factors present clear advantages for clinical research.

Roadblocks:

  • India has been lagging in this area primarily because the regulatory system in India for clinical research has become increasingly a deterrent for biopharmaceutical- and device-companies which sponsor clinical trials. The existing legal framework lacks credibility, in terms of predictability and transparency, in the criteria and protocols governing clinical research.
  • Clinical trials also seem to be misunderstood in the media and have sometimes been portrayed as experimental procedures, where new products are being unsafely tested on people.
  • There have also been instances of lapses in confidentiality or non-adherence to protocols or shortcomings in getting informed consent from participants and these are to be totally condemned. Because of this they have received wide support.

Conclusion:

Health research is not only crucial to the development of new diagnostic tools and treatments, it goes on to guiding the planning of health-care services in the appropriate direction, facilitating continuous evaluation and improvement of medical care, and allowing a thorough investigation of risk factors and disease associations. Therefore, Improvements in the overall policy environment can have a significant impact on attracting and securing greater investment and the associated economic gains.

To reap the benefits of clinical trials, our objective should be to bring about more clinical research in the country while maintaining high standards to ensure patient safety and accuracy of data.

Q.3)The Union Cabinet has cleared the National Medical Commission Bill, which does away with the Medical Council of India (MCI) and replaces it with a regulator that will do away with “heavy handed regulatory control”. In light of the statement highlight the key features of the Bill. (GS-2)

The Union Cabinet has cleared the National Medical Commission Bill, which does away with the Medical Council of India (MCI) and replaces it with a regulator that will do away with “heavy handed regulatory control” over medical institutions and will also bring in a national licentiate examination.

Key features of the Bill:

  • The bill provides for the constitution of four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education, assessment and accreditation of medical institutions and registration of practitioners under the National Medical Commission.
  • According to the draft bill, the commission will have government nominated chairman and members, and the board members will be selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary. There will five elected and 12 ex-officio members in the commission.
  • As per the Bill, the government, under the National Medical Commission (NMC), can dictate guidelines for fees up to 40% of seats in private medical colleges. This is aimed at giving students relief from the exorbitant fees charged by these colleges and is a standout feature of the bill.
  • The bill also has a provision for a common entrance exam and licentiate (exit) exam that medical graduates have to pass before practising or pursuing PG courses. For MBBS, students have to clear NEET, and before they step into practice, they must pass the exit exam.
  • Recognised medical institutions don’t need the regulator’s permission to add more seats or start PG course. This mechanism to reduce the discretionary powers of the regulator.
  • Earlier, medical colleges required the MCI’s approval for establishment, recognition, renewal of the yearly permission or recognition of degrees, and even increase the number of students they admitted. Under the new bill, the powers of the regulator are reduced to establishment and recognition. This means less red tape, but also less scrutiny of medical colleges.

 

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