9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 19, 2021

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Here is our 9pm current affairs brief for you today

About 9 PM Brief- With the 9 PM Daily Current affairs for UPSC brief we intend to simplify the newspaper reading experience. In 9PM briefs, we provide our reader with a summary of all the important articles and editorials from three important newspapers namely The Hindu, Indian Express, and Livemint. This will provide you with analysis, broad coverage, and factual information from a Mains examination point of view.

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Role of ICMR in Facilitating Evidence-based Treatment

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Synopsis: ICMR must assess evidence and provide specific recommendation on treatment. An Evidence-based Treatment will build public trust in the health care system.

Background

  • Drugs and therapies are being used for the Covid-19 treatment, without clear evidence. For instance, convalescent plasma therapy (CPT), Hydroxychloroquine, and the anti-parasitic drug, ivermectin.
  • Evidence-based ICMR guidelines can control this issue effectively.

 The case for non-evidence-based treatment: The Use of convalescent plasma therapy (CPT)

  1. Last year, the ICMR, based on its clinical trial results, demonstrated that CPT neither saves lives nor improves the patient’s condition. However, ICMR was ineffective in informing the public about the issue. This led to the widespread use of CPT in many states.
  2. In a recent statement, the ICMR recommended that the use of CPT  is advisable only in early moderate disease, or within seven days of symptoms.
  3. Finally, in its latest guidelines, The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has finally dropped its recommendation on use of convalescent plasma therapy (CPT) as treatment for moderate COVID-19.
  4. This comes after the results published by The Lancet. It found no effect of the use of CPT.
  5. Further, evidence is emerging that CPT may be contributing to the evolution of coronavirus mutations.

What needs to be done?

  • Not only CPT, but many drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin also, continue to find a place for the treatment of mild disease. It is also despite a specific mention of “low certainty of evidence.
  • So, to avoid such situations in feature, the ICMR task force has to qualitatively assess evidence and be very specific with its recommendations.
  • Further, ICMR should publicize these guidelines at regular intervals to educate the public about the evolving nature of the treatment.
  • This will work better towards easing the pressure on doctors as well as in improving trust in systems

Measures to Prevent Future Waves of Pandemic Disaster

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Synopsis: India needs to enhance its surveillance system, vaccinate its population, and reprioritise healthcare services. It will prevent future waves of pandemics.

What measures should be taken to prevent future waves of pandemic disaster?

  • First, inputs of a strong surveillance system are needed to identify or predict future waves. Identifying upcoming waves is very important in mitigating a catastrophe. The current disaster is mainly because of our failure to predict waves due to unreliable testing and under-reporting of cases and deaths. Hence, we need to improve on the following,
    • The Central and State government should use real-time data by encouraging reliable reporting and initiating standardised definitions.
    • Review mechanisms should be strengthened. It will detect the outbreak in the initial stages and extinguish it before the pandemic spreads to other areas.
    • Simultaneously, genomic sequencing in real-time in the fixed proportion of samples needs to be prioritized. It will identify the Mutant variants causing outbreaks.
  • Second, ramping up vaccination manufacturing to ensure universal vaccination for all not only in India but globally. India has a proven capacity to scale up testing facilities within a short period of time. Thus,
    • The Central government should invite foreign manufacturing firms to collaborate with Indian firms under the ‘Make in India’ Programme’.
    • Fast-tracking the manufacture of all vaccines that has been approved for use by various regulatory authorities through a single-window clearance.
  • Third, since 2009, WHO had declared six public health emergencies of international concern. India cannot always rely on reactive systems for each pandemic. Hence, India needs to plan for preventing and managing pandemics in the future. Future plan should focus on,
    • Nearly 60% of known infectious diseases and up to 75% of new or emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin. Adopting the ‘One Health’ agenda can prevent future pandemics. Because it ensures that environmental health and animal health are given similar priority as human health.
    • Greater financial allocations, increasing vaccination capacity, applied research, enhancing effective communication, and monitoring effectiveness will strengthen India’s role in the future for preventing and managing pandemics.
  • Finally, need to build a robust public health workforce to provide efficient public health responses.
    • Front-line workers play an indispensable part in surveillance, contract-tracing, and mobilising people for primary healthcare services, including vaccination. Hence, we need to ensure that one Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker is hired for every 1,000 people. Further, an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and nurse practitioner are hired for every 5,000 people.
    • To provide access to critical care capacity for all, we need to ensure at least one hospital with 100 beds. It should include beds with emergency and critical care services that caters to a population of 30,000-50,000.

Significance of India’s Diaspora

Source: The Hindu

Gs2: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Synopsis:  India needs to remain engaged with the members of the Progressive Democratic Party in the US, despite a difference of opinions.

Background

  • India and South Africa proposed a temporary TRIPS waiver at WTO to waive Intellectual Property Rights on Covid-related innovations.
  • Relaxation in IPR will boost the manufacturing of Covid related medical kits including vaccines. However, many western countries and business corporations opposed this.
  • In this context, The U. S has recently announced its support for a TRIPS waiver. Further, the US is providing Covid-19 related aid to India.
  • It has been said that the Change in U. S’s Positive approach towards India is a result of continued efforts by the political and business class, civil society, Indian Americans. More importantly, the Progressive Democratic Party’s efforts.

Indian diaspora in the Progressive Democratic Party

  • The notable persons are Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Congressman Rohit ‘Ro’ Khanna Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthy.
  • Earlier they were instrumental in voicing against Human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and supported in favour of Peaceful Farmers protest.
  • Irrespective of these positions, they were instrumental in pursuing the US government to support India through aid and TRIPS waiver.

Rising Cyclone Intensity and Frequency due to Micro-Climatic Changes

Synopsis: According to the Council on Energy, Environment and Water(CEEW) report the cyclone frequency has doubled after 2005 in India. Micro Climatic Changes are contributing to this change.

Key Findings of the report:

  • In the last 50 years, India has recorded a 12-fold increase in the number of cyclonic events such as extreme rainfall, floods, sea-level rise, and thunderstorms.
  • The frequency of extreme weather events is far more severe on the western coast of India. This is expected to increase further in the coming decades.
  • Concern: This is a worrying sign for India. This is because Arabian Sea cyclones have been impacting India’s west coast at the rate of one per year since 2018. This frequency is not seen before in five decades.

Reasons behind the increasing intensity of cyclones on western coastal areas

  • Microclimatic changes triggered by local climate change drivers are the reasons behind it. Changes include land-use-surface change, deforestation, encroachments upon wetlands and water bodies, which are contributing to this change.
  • These factors are contributing to excessive heating of land areas. This heat is further pulled into the ocean, which is in excess of the heating of oceans due to global warming. It intensifies storms into cyclones.

Vulnerable States:

 Gujarat:

  • In Gujarat, as many as 29 districts are vulnerable to extreme climate events. These extreme events have increased three-fold between 1970 and 2019.
  • Moreover, Gujarat is becoming increasingly common to have droughts in one set of districts and floods in other sets of districts in the same season.

Other States:

  • Maharashtra: The analysis also points to Maharashtra as a vulnerable state which has been affected most by droughts. The state has seen a seven-fold increase in the past 50 years affecting more than 80% of its districts.
  • Goa: There has been a four-fold increase in storm surge and cyclone events in the last 50 years in Goa. Cyclone-associated events have also increased six-fold since 2005.

Initiatives by the government:

  • The Government of India launched the second phase of the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project in 2015.
  • The programme is being implemented successfully in the Eastern coast of India and especially states like Odisha.
  • However, the projects along the western coast are lagging. The projects were to be completed by 2019, but the states here have missed this deadline, Hence, the deadline has now been extended to 2022.

Recommendations:

  • Climate-vulnerable states such as Gujarat need to focus more on building climate resilience, especially at the local and regional levels.
  • States must invest in cost-effective (and nature-based) resilient infrastructure.
  • Governments should develop decentralised capacity to respond to climate shocks and design salient public information campaigns to prepare vulnerable communities against climate risks.
  • At the national level, a Climate Risk Commission with statutory status is required. The commission should be supported by a Climate Risk Atlas with district-level information.
  • New insurance schemes should be launched to provide the safety net for livelihoods and not just the saving of lives.

Source: Indian Express


Steps and Suggestions to Handle Cyclone related Disasters

Source: click here

Syllabus: GS 1

Synopsis: Precise forecasts and resilience-building are very important in handling severe cyclones.

Introduction 

  • Cyclone Tauktae has become a severe cyclonic storm. It is throwing huge volumes of water all along the west coast. It caused loss of life in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, before fading overland.
  • Thousands of people had to be evacuated to safe locations. This year’s pre-monsoon season is posing a double risk. People are stuck between a fast-spreading virus variant and a pounding storm. 
  • Many coastal residents would have gone through a similar experience last year, when the severe cyclonic storm, Nisarga, moved landwards from the Arabian Sea.

Initiatives and suggestions 

India has taken many steps in forecasting, disaster mitigation.  However, it needs to develop greater expertise in crafting policies to increase resilience among communities. Only then it would be prepared to handle cyclones. 

  1. Firstly, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) introduced an impact-based cyclone warning system from the October-December season aimed to reduce economic losses last year. It focussed on districts and specific locations. It also incorporated factors such as population, infrastructure, land use, and settlements.
  2. Secondly, the IMD claimed that its accuracy of forecasts is now better. For instance, in plotting landfall location. This is a promising approach (along with ground mapping of vulnerabilities) to avoid loss of life and destruction of property. 
  3. Thirdly, the importance of accurate early warnings cannot be over stressed. The Arabian Sea has become a major source of severe cyclones. Their intensity is heightened by a long-term rise in sea surface temperatures related to pollution over South Asia and its neighbourhood.
  4. Lastly, climate-proofing of lives and dwellings should be a high priority now. Climate proofing requires a multi-sectoral approach: 
    • To build durable homes of suitable design.
    • Create adequate storm shelters.
    • Provide accurate early warnings.
    • Ensure financial protection against calamities through insurance for property and assets. Governments must rise up to this challenge. 

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 19 May, 2021

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