30,November 2017

1.India unlikely to cut malaria burden by half in 2020: WHO
Source: The Hindu

India accounted for 6% of global malaria cases and 7% of deaths caused by it in 2016, according to a report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO).This is in the same ballpark as last year, though the WHO figures also suggest that India is unlikely to reduce its case burden beyond 40% by 2020.

In contrast, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan achieved malaria-free status in 2015 and 2016 respectively. There were an estimated 4,45,000 deaths from malaria globally in 2016, compared with 4,46,000 estimated deaths in 2015. About 80% of the deaths were accounted for by 15 countries, namely India and 14 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Challenges:

  • A key impediment to eliminating malaria is a weak surveillance system. India and Nigeria, two major contributors to the global burden of malaria, were able to detect only 8% and 16% of cases respectively via the system.
  • Moreover, 51% of Plasmodium vivaxcases — the milder cousin of the  falciparum— were traced in India. This could at least be partially explained by resistance to chloroquine, the first line treatment to P. vivax infections that has been detected in pockets of the country earlier this decade.
  • For a long time,  falciparum dominated India’s case burden and, though its share has decreased, there is a slight increase in malaria cases by other parasites.

Low funding:

  • Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Indonesia, says the WHO, are among the countries poised to reduce malaria incidence by over 40% by 2020.
  • India — due to low funding per person at risk and resistance to certain frontline insecticides — is only expected to achieve a 20%-40% reduction.
  • In 2016, an estimated Rs. 13,000 crore was invested in malaria control and elimination efforts globally by governments of malaria endemic countries and their international partners.
  • The majority (74%) of investments in 2016 was spent in the WHO’s Africa region, followed by the WHO regions of Southeast Asia (7%), the Eastern Mediterranean and the Americas (each 6%), and the Western Pacific (4%).

In Contrast to WHO report:

  • Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J.P. Nadda at a high-level round table on ‘Accelerating the Elimination of Malaria in the Southeast Asia Region’ said “India has reduced its new malaria cases by one third, and even crossed the malaria mortality targets of 2020,”
  • He further added that with nearly three-fourths of the share of the regional burden, India’s successes had significantly contributed to the reduction of the burden of malaria for the entire Southeast Asia region.
  • The Union Minister noted that a majority of malaria cases in the country occurred in its bordering districts, forests and tribal areas.

Malaria:

  • Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by parasitic protozoans (a group of single-celled microorganisms) belonging to the Plasmodium type
  • The disease is most commonly transmitted by an infected female Anopheles mosquito
  • Five species of Plasmodium can infect and be spread by humans
  • Most deaths are caused by P. falciparum because P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae generally cause a milder form of malaria
  • The disease is widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions that exist in a broad band around the equator
  • The Malaria Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) was formed in 2012 to provide strategic advice and technical input to WHO on all aspects of malaria control and elimination

2.TRAI backs free data in a non-discriminatory way
Source: The Hindu

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has stuck to its recommendation of allowing free data to consumers in a non-discriminatory manner by third-party aggregators while agreeing with the telecom department’s views that government money can be used for connectivity rather than supporting free data scheme to rural subscribers.
  • The regulator noted that data had become affordable due to a tariff war in the telecom sector, and that “concern with regard to availability of affordable data services has been mitigated.”
  • The authority tends to agree with the views of DoT (Department of Telecom) that a larger focus is required on connectivity, content availability in local language and digital literacy. The resources could therefore be effectively utilised to address the said issues.
  • In December last year, Trai had recommended that a “reasonable” amount of free data access — say a 100 MB per month — be provided to rural subscribers and the scheme could be funded from the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
  • However, the DoT subsequently pointed out that cost of an Internet enabled mobile handset was a bigger “obstacle” than the tariff of Internet access, and that the latter had already been addressed to an extent through market competition.
  • DoT questioned whether it would be worthwhile to provide a subsidy to those rural subscribers who already owned smartphones. It opined that the applicability of the proposed scheme was “limited”, thus undermining its tenability.

3.Singapore offers India logistical base
Source: The Hindu

India and Singapore agreed on greater cooperation and activity in the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea even as the two countries concluded a wide ranging naval agreement for maritime cooperation including logistical support.

  • Strait of Malacca and Indian Ocean are key sea lanes of communication
  • The two countries concluded a bilateral agreement for naval cooperation, which includes maritime security, joint exercises and temporary deployments from the naval facilities of each other and mutual logistical support.
  • Early this year, the Indian Navy permanently deployed a frontline warship at the mouth of the strait to keep an eye on the increasing Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean as part of its mission-based deployment.
  • The agreement would give the Navy the ability for extended deployments in the region.
  • The strait is considered a critical choke point for global commerce and is seen by China as vulnerability for its energy security. The development is likely to be followed closely by Beijing.
  • Singapore had accepted India’s proposal to institutionalise naval engagements in the shared maritime space, including setting up maritime exercises with like-minded countries and other ASEAN partners.
  • The two countries also agreed to explore joints projects in research and development.

4.North Korea tests most powerful ICBM: Hwasong-15
Source: The Hindu

North Korea successfully launched Hwasong-15, a new type of nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It is North Korea’s most powerful ICBM that can reach entire eastern US seaboard and Washington.

The ICBM was launched from near Pyongyang and had reached height of 4,475 km and traveled 950 km before it accurately hitting a sea target. It landed inside of Japan’s economic exclusion zone (EEZ) in Sea of Japan, about 250 km west of Aomori, which is on northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu.

Hwasong-15:

  • North Korea claims that Hwasong-15 ICBM is ‘significantly more’ powerful than previous missiles. It is upgraded version of Hwasong-14 ICBM.
  • It is North Korea’s ‘greatest ICBM’ that could bearmed with ‘super-large heavy nuclear warhead’.
  • It is the first ballistic missile developed by North Korea that is theoretically capable of reaching United States mainland (including Washington DC).
  • Based on its trajectory and distance during the test, the missile has range of more than 13,000 km which covers all of Earth’s continents, except South America and Antarctica.

5.Beijing calls for dialogue
Source: The Hindu

China has reiterated its “double freeze” call to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, frayed by launch of a powerful new ballistic by North Korea.

China and Russia have proposed the “double freeze” or “double suspension” proposal. It calls for North Korea halting its nuclear and missile programme in return for the U.S. and South Korea suspending their major military exercises.

6.Govt to build 10 million houses for rural poor by December 2018
Source:IE

  • The ministry of rural development is aiming to complete the construction of 10 million houses for the rural poor by December 2018.It is earlier than the March 2019 deadline set by the National Democratic Alliance government.
  • More than five million houses are to be completed by March 2018.To complete this target, the rural development ministry has in partnership with state governments taken many steps “including setting month-wise targets for completion of houses
  • Some 5.6 million people were sanctioned houses under the programme with the government using data from the 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census and gram sabha (village council) records
  • The faster completion of quality houses has been assisted by payment of assistance directly into the beneficiary account through the IT-DBT (information technology-direct benefit transfer) platform
  • States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are among the best performing in terms of construction of new houses
  • But states like Assam, Bihar and Odisha are among those lagging behind due to problems like floods



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