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List of Contents
- The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions (NCAHP) Bill, 2020
- India’s vaccination strategy needs a course correction
- Issues in the MTP Amendment Bill
- Issues and Challenges facing BIMSTEC Organisation
- India should Ensure Climate Justice in Net Zero Target Debate
- Why India Needs to Balance Relations with China, Russia and US?
The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions (NCAHP) Bill, 2020
Source- The Indian Express
Syllabus- GS 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Synopsis: Lok Sabha passed The National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020 [NCAHP] unanimously. Importance of Allied Health professionals in the delivery of health care services.
- Recently, the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020 [NCAHP] passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha.
- The Bill would control and standardize allied and healthcare professional education and practice.
- The recognition of allied healthcare professionals under NCAHP 2020 is paradigm shift.
Allied health professionals and their role in the delivery of healthcare services-
Allied health professionals are individuals engaged in the delivery of health or related care. Their area of expertise includes therapeutic, diagnostic, curative, preventive, and rehabilitative interventions.
- They are the first to recognize the problems of the patients and serve as safety nets.
- Their awareness of patient care accountability adds tremendous value to the healthcare team in both the public and private sectors.
Key takeaways of the NCAHP bill 2020
- First, The Bill defines an allied health professional as an associate, technician, or technologist. The professional, who is trained to support the diagnosis and treatment of any illness, disease, injury, or impairment.
- For example- The bill recognizes over 50 professions such as physiotherapists, optometrists, nutritionists, medical laboratory professionals, radiotherapy technology professionals.
- Second, The bill used the International System of Classification of Occupations (ISCO code) to classify allied professionals.
- This allows for greater global mobility and better prospects for such professionals.
- It will benefit up to 8-9 lakh current allied and healthcare professionals.
- Third, the establishment of a central statutory body as a National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions.
- To frame policies and standards.
- To govern professional conduct.
- Also, to recommend credentials.
- Further, to establish and maintain a central registry.
- Fourth, the Bill has the provision for state councils to execute major functions through autonomous boards.
- The state councils are in charge of implementation, while the National Commission is in charge of policy formulation.
- Why government’s recognition of allied healthcare professionals is a paradigm shift?
- Stressful life due to modern lifestyle, rapid urbanization
- Rising chronic non-communicable disease burden.
- An increasing proportion of elderly people.
The above issues require a change in healthcare delivery methods. Therefore, trained, allied health professionals are needed to care for patients with mental illnesses, the elderly, those in need of palliative treatment. Also, it will enable professional services for lifestyle change related to physical activity and diets.
- Allied healthcare professionals are an important part of the medical profession. Their contribution is equal to, if not greater than, that of doctors.
- The law would increase job opportunities for allied and healthcare professionals and also provide dignity to their valuable works.
India’s vaccination strategy needs a course correction
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: GS:2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
Synopsis: India’s vaccination strategy lacks few important steps and needs immediate action.
Introduction: Recently Drug Controller General of India formally approved another vaccine candidate(Sputnik V). This vaccine is approved under emergency use authorisation.
India’s vaccination strategy:
- So far, India’s vaccination strategy relied almost entirely on Covishield. The other vaccine Covaxin so far has only limited extent in India’s vaccine strategy.
- India also allowed using foreign-made vaccines in India. But, these vaccines have to be approved by their respective regulatory agencies. Such as the U.S., the U.K., Europe, Japan.
- Similarly, there is World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of approved emergency use vaccines. Indians can also use those vaccines.
Concerns with India’s vaccination strategy:
- Vaccine approved in a different country may have adverse effects on the Indian population.
- The WHO vaccines can avoid local clinical trials. But, they are subject to parallel bridging trials. For example, Pfizer approached Indian regulators for such bridging trails.
- India due to emergency use authorization rushed through its regulatory process. This is evident as India had enough time and opportunity to conduct clinical trials in the right way for Vaccines such as Covishield and Covaxin. But India approved these vaccines under Emergency use.
- Not clear planning on vaccine stocks. Countries like the U.K. and the U.S. planned enough vaccine dosage for their country for attaining self-sufficient. For example, in the US at least 30% of its adults have got one dose of vaccination. But India did not have any such plan. So, without that, ‘atmanirbhar’ in the vaccine is not feasible.
Suggestions to improve India’s Vaccine strategy:
India’s pharmacovigilance programme has to step up to solve the challenges in India’s vaccine strategy.
- India must not repeat the same mistake. India has to understand that the available choice of vaccine does not translate into immediate availability.
- All the Indian vaccine companies had a tie-up with their foreign counterparts. So, even though they make millions of vaccines in India, they will sell them to the highest global bidders(Profit-motive). So India has to ensure vaccine availability to at least for its adult population.
- India has to study the past. Last year, the Indian health system faced a shortage of hospital beds, ventilators, and black marketing of drugs. With the cases increasing once again, India has to improve the situation prior to the worrying state.
Issues in the MTP Amendment Bill
Source: The Hindu
Syllabus: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of vulnerable sections
Synopsis: The Medical Termination of Pregnancy or MTP Amendment bill is a step forward in recognising the rights of women. But it is not a giant leap.
The 1971 Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio due to unsafe abortions in India. The amendments made a few significant updates to the 1971 Act.
Salient provisions of The MTP Act, 1971:
- The act allows a woman to terminate her pregnancy within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. After consulting an RMP (registered medical practitioner) woman can terminate her pregnancy.
- If the women want to terminate her pregnancy between 12-20 weeks, she needs to get an opinion from 2 RMPs.
- The Medical practitioners have to ascertain that continuance of the pregnancy would risk the life of the pregnant woman or substantial risk (Physical or mental abnormalities) to the child if it is born
Salient provisions of the MTP Amendment Bill:
- The amendment extends the upper limit for permitting abortions from the current 20 weeks to 24 weeks.
- The opinion of one RMP is required for termination of pregnancy up to 20 weeks of gestation. (Between 20 weeks to 24 weeks the opinion of two RMP’s is required).
- The Amendment also allows the termination of pregnancy beyond 24 weeks if there are foetal anomalies.
- Formation of the medical boards in each state by State governments for this specific purpose(termination of pregnancy after 24 weeks).
- Further, the amendment facilitates abortion of “unmarried women also“. As the amendment replaced the word ‘husband’ with the word ‘partner’. For the first time, the amendment of the MTP Act moved beyond marital relationships.
The problems in the MTP Amendment Bill:
But the MTP Amendment falls short of few important things. Such as,
- The amendment does not address the heart of any debate on abortions. That is a woman as an agency of reproduction.
- The key decision-maker regarding the termination of pregnancy after 24 weeks should be the woman and her gynaecologist (for deciding the health of the woman/foetus). Instead, the amendment created a Board of specialists. The board will make the woman undergo a difficult process before such an abortion. Sometimes the cases will also get decided in courts.
- The Amendment is not in line with the global trend. Over 60 countries allow women to abort their pregnancy at any point during their 10-month gestation.
Suggestions to improve the MTP Amendment Bill:
- Because of a lack of development in medical technology, the 1971 Act prescribes the 12-week limit. As it is not safe for pregnant women to abort after 12-weeks.
- But with the advancement of medical technology, it is safe to abort at any stage during their gestation. So the government has to remove the gestation limit in the Amendment.
- Fundamental change in mindset is the need of the hour. Until women are seen as an agent of reproduction, nothing will change in reality.
So, the improvement of the MTP Amendment is not a holistic one. Instead, it is a minor update.
Issues and Challenges facing BIMSTEC Organisation
Source: The Hindu
Gs2: Bilateral, Regional, and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Synopsis: Recently, the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held. In this article, we will discuss the progress, issues, and challenges concerning the BIMSTEC organisation.
- Recently, the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting held online. The foreign ministers of BIMSTEC (the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) were the participants.
- Initially, BIMSTEC was a grouping of four nations (India, Thailand, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) formed through the Bangkok Declaration of 1997. Its aim was to promote rapid economic development.
- Later, three more countries (Myanmar, Nepal, and Bhutan) also included in BIMSTEC.
- The progress under BIMSTEC was slow in the first 2 decades of its establishment. For instance, only 3 summits were held in the first 20 years.
- However, After the failure of SAARC, India changed its foreign policy to treat it as a more important instrument for regional cooperation.
- BIMSTEC Leaders’ Retreat, followed by their Outreach Summit with the BRICS leaders in Goa in October 2016, gained international attention.
- Later, the 4th leaders’ summit, held in Kathmandu in August 2018. It framed an ambitious plan for institutional reform to include economic and security cooperation.
- During the 4th summit, the decision was also taken to form the BIMSTEC charter.
- Today the shared goal is to aim for “a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Bay of Bengal Region”.
What are the developments in the 17th BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting?
- One, the meeting welcomed the proposal to hold the 5th BIMSTEC Summit in Sri Lanka in the next few months.
- Two, the ministers recommended the early adoption of BIMSTEC charter.
- Three, they also endorsed the rationalization of sectors and sub-sectors of activity, with each member-state serving as a lead for the assigned areas of special interest.
- Four, they also supported the Master Plan for Transport Connectivity, which will be adopted at the next summit.
- Five, three MoUs / Agreements were also endorsed for signing at the next BIMSTEC Summit.
- Mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
- Cooperation between diplomatic academies.
- The establishment of a technology transfer facility in Colombo.
What were the opportunities missed out in the recent ministerial meeting?
- One, lack of deliberation on the trade and economic front. The BIMSTEC Free Trade Area Framework Agreement, signed in 2004 remains unsuccessful even after 20 rounds of negotiations. A recent study by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry had suggested that BIMSTEC should aim for a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement to be a real game-changer.
- Two, there is no effort from the BIMSEC leaders to expand their dialogue by involving the vibrant business communities.
What are the issues that are hampering the progressive development of BIMSTEC?
BIMSTEC has achieved much progress in the fields of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief and security, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and coastal security cooperation.
Also, the academic and strategic community actively interact through the BIMSTEC Network of Policy Think Tanks. Despite these developments, some concern remains
- One, lack of cordial bilateral relations between its member states. For instance, India-Nepal, India-Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh-Myanmar ties are not good, due to political, economic, and social reasons.
- Two, uncertainties over SAARC impact the development of BIMSTEC. For instance, BIMSTEC members Nepal and Sri Lanka want a revival of the SAARC summit.
- Third, the growing influence of China in South Asia is another threat to BIMSTEC cooperation. For instance, a popular Bangladeshi scholar supported admitting China as a partner in BIMSTEC. However, India will not welcome this idea.
- Fourth, the ongoing military coup in Myanmar and popular protest against the military coup is a new practical challenge.
- Fifth, apathy towards holding regular annual summits. For instance, while most of the regional organisation (SCO, ASEAN, G20) were able to meet at a high political level even during the Pandemic, BIMSTEC leaders failed to meet.
India should Ensure Climate Justice in Net Zero Target Debate
Source: The Hindu
Gs3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.
Synopsis: India needs to propose an alternative formulation that ensures Climate Justice in achieving the ‘net-zero target’.
- Recently, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate visited India. Both sides discussed briefly about their cooperation on climate change and strategy for long term priorities and long-term targets.
- Also, S. President Joe Biden’s ‘Leaders’ Summit on Climate’ is scheduled on April 22-23. This summit is expected to set a stage for major countries to outline their climate plans.
- Today, climate action to reduce GHG emissions has become equal to achieving a net-zero emission target by 2050.
- However, achieving net zero emissions have created a dilemma for the fast-growing developing countries like India. Because, these countries need carbon space to develop, and they are also among the most vulnerable countries to climate change.
What are the different views on adopting Net zero emission targets in India?
- The debate on whether India should declare a net-zero target or not has centred around two alternative strategies.
- One view supports delegitimizing long-term targets and to focus on measurable near-term progress.
- Whereas the other view argues that without long-term targets, the path to decarbonization has little value.
Which way to decide?
- Neither the short- nor the long-term targets delink from the climate action plan.
- Because a short-term target such as improvements in energy efficiency and fast penetration of electric vehicles cannot substitute a clear long-term target. Also, avoiding net zero emission targets will make India look like a climate laggard.
- Rather, India should attempt to reframe the net-zero debate on the basis of climate justice. Climate justice ensures that countries are equitably responsible based on their past and future emission.
- This approach will facilitate economic advancement and climate responsibility on parallel lines without compromising one another.
How climate justice can be ensured?
To ensure principles of climate justice, a formula that combines per capita income and aggregate emissions is required.
- First, high-income countries (i.e., per capita income of $12,536 or more in 2019 prices) should achieve net-zero emissions within 15-20 Years. For instance,
- European Union or the United States needs to achieve net-zero emissions by 2035-40, rather than 2050.
- Whereas India, which may become a high-income economy around 2050, should need to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.
- Even by this method, high-income countries will have a longer transition period between peaking emissions and net-zero compared to India, according to Council on Energy, Environment and Water report.
- Second, Countries that are not in the high-income category should aim to reduce their Aggregate emissions (historical emission + future emission) compared to high-income countries. Because this idea accounts for the advantages enjoyed by developing countries to tap into technological advances and cost reductions.
- For example, India benefited from falling solar costs and was able to aim higher for its renewable energy ambitions.
- This will also create the conditions for further innovation and investment in climate-friendly infrastructure, technologies, business models, and behavioral changes.
- As climate mitigation technologies become more widely available and cheaper, all countries will be able to achieve net-zero much earlier.
Countries need both short-term and long-term targets to establish certainty of action, the credibility of promises and create incentives for markets to respond.
Why India Needs to Balance Relations with China, Russia and US?
Source: Indian Express
Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India
Synopsis: India must actively engage with all the three big powers (US, Russia, China). It is because there is no guarantee that today’s friends will not confront and today’s enemy will not cooperate in the future. This is based on the principle that change is the only permanent thing in foreign relations.
- The recent visit of the Russian Foreign minister to Delhi and Islamabad shows India’s changing relations with big powers. Earlier, Russia used to give more importance to India.
- It is just one example amongst the multiple indications that includes:
- China’s rising assertiveness over India.
- India’s growing relationship with the US and Europe signals a shift from an earlier stance of alienating the west.
- India’s rising stature in the International arena due to its economic might and diversified foreign policy.
- Change is the only permanent thing in International relations as can be seen by changing relations between the trio (US, Russia, and China).
- They shared very good relations in the 1950s due to the shared ideology of communism. A formal treaty of alliance was signed in 1950.
- Russia generously gave economic and technological support to China that helped in the development of China’s nuclear program.
- However, relations deteriorated in the 1960s and a tussle between the armies was seen in 1969.
- After this, both countries tried to enhance their closeness with the U.S as a way of countering the other. However, a little normalcy in relations was seen in the 1980s post the American pressure.
- The relationship strengthened once again after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It was due to the ignorant attitude of the western bloc towards Russia.
US – Russia relations:
- They were allies in the 1940s and defeated the axis powers in World War 2. They laid the foundation of the Yalta system on which the current world order rests.
- However, in the late 1940s, a Cold War emerged between the two based on ideological confrontation – Capitalism versus Communism.
- A ray of hope was again witnessed in the 1960s when the two agreed to lay the foundations for nuclear arms control. They also agreed to develop a new framework for shared global leadership.
- Nonetheless, the relationship has been confrontational in nature after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.
- They shared a sour relationship in the 1950s. The countries were confronting each other in the Korean War in the early 1950s.
- However, the growing differences with Russia and fear of two countries’ global domination in the 1960-70s induced it to engage more with the U.S.
- As a mark of loyalty towards the US, the Chinese government didn’t renew the security treaty with Russia in 1980.
- China took the support of the US and strengthened the economic power that eventually helped it to become a future global leader.
- Despite this, China and the US don’t share a cordial relationship in the current scenario.
India’s relationship with China, Russia, and US:
- Russia had shown considerable support in the form of repeated veto in the UN against Anglo-American interventions in Kashmir.
- The 1960s tussle between Russia and China allowed India to enhance its cooperation with Russia especially post the 1962 Sino-India war. Both countries viewed China as a common threat.
- India became cautious of US- Russia dominance over the world in the 1960s especially post the adoption of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty system. This was to curtail India’s atomic ambitions.
- Russian intervention in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan were against Indian principles. It created a gap in relations.
- Russia and China are today cautious of India’s growing closeness with the U.S. They want to create an Asian NATO to counter the west. India on the other hand is concerned about America and China setting up a G-2 over Asia and the world.
- The changing relationships between the trio indicate that bonding between Russia-China can decrease in the future. Similarly, the US can develop closeness with China.
- Understanding this, India must actively partner with all of them as done by it in the past.
- In the case of Russia, the mutually beneficial bilateral relationship shouldn’t be compromised despite the current differences over Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific issue.
- India should leverage its economic potential (6th Largest) and diverse base of foreign policy to effectively balance the relationship with the trio.
- Diverse Base – Actively engaging with US, European powers (France, UK), Asian powers (Japan, Korea, and Australia), etc.
In a nutshell, we can say that the only permanent thing in foreign relations is that they are bound to change in the future.