1) Global Tuberculosis Report, 2020:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently released the Global Tuberculosis Report, 2020.
- The report highlights the impact of COVID-19 on Tuberculosis (TB) related deaths.
- It says that COVID-19 might increase the TB deaths by 0.2 to 0.4 million worldwide.
- As per the report, India registered a decline in Tuberculosis cases by 85% in April 2020 after the lockdown was imposed.
- However, the number of TB deaths could be between 2, 00,000 and 4, 00,000.
- Philippines, Indonesia and South Africa accounted to 44% of global TB cases in the world.
- India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Russia accounts for two-thirds of global TB cases.
- Largest burden of drug-resistant TB were reported in India, China and Russia.
- TB cases reduced by 9% while TB deaths increased by 14% between 2015 and 2019.
- As per the report, around 14 million people were treated between 2018 and 2019 for TB.
- Report says, treatment is moving ahead of the five-year target, set by WHO, of reaching 40 million between 2018 and 2022.
- But, the COVID-19 is the biggest hurdle to achieve these targets currently.
Why TB deaths have increased?
- Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical staffs have been reallocated to look after the corona patients.
- Because of the, TB patients are not being given proper care.
- Other reasons could be – restriction in movement of people, procurement and transportation of TB medicines have been reduced and the loss of wages.
- This has made difficult for people to access the health centres and proper treatment.
TB Cases in India
- India accounts to 26% of total global TB cases which stands at the highest burden in the world.
2) New START treaty extended:
Context: President Vladimir Putin on Friday proposed a one-year extension without conditions of the last major nuclear arms reduction accord between Russia and the U.S.
- The New START deal was signed in April 2010 but went into force in February 2011.
- It lasts for ten years but with a possible extension.
- I have a proposal — which is to extend the current agreement without any pre-conditions at least for one year to have an opportunity to conduct substantial negotiations
- New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.
- It was signed on 8 April 2010 in Prague and, after ratification, entered into force on 5 February 2011. It is expected to last at least until 2021.
3) Caspian war games:
Context: Russia on Friday said its Navy had begun military exercises in the central waters of the Caspian Sea north of the Azerbaijani capital Baku, insisting there was no threat to neighbouring states as Armenia and Azerbaijan battle over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
- The war games are taking place north of Azerbaijan’s Absheron peninsula, where Baku is located, and will include artillery and rocket fire
- The activities… do not pose any threat and do not impose restrictions on the economic activities of the Caspian littoral states.
- Russia has so far kept its distance from the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
- Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) military alliance
- Russia, Armenia , Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are members
- Azerbaijan, is not a member
- With protests still pressuring Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko after disputed elections, CSTO forces have also been taking part in joint military exercises this week in Belarus.
- The exercises are called “Indestructible Brotherhood”.
4) Repurposed Drugs:
Interim results from the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial, coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), have indicated that remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon regimens appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or the in-hospital course of COVID-19 among hospitalised patients as per information released by the World Health Organisation.
- The SOLIDARITY trial is the largest trial to examine the effect of four treatments on the risk of death in hospitalised patients of COVID-19.
- As a multi-country study it offers the advantage of large patient numbers needed to reach meaningful conclusions on this very important clinical outcome and also provides generalisability of its conclusions across diverse populations across the world.
- He added that the trial has not shown any benefit on overall survival of any of the four tested drugs on reducing the risk of dying in hospitalised patients of COVID-19.
- The trial will continue to evaluate other promising interventions for their ability to save lives, through rigorously examined evidence from a large randomised trial methodology
- The world’s largest randomised control trial on COVID-19 therapeutics has generated conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of repurposed drugs for the treatment of COVID-19, noted the WHO
- The study, which spans more than 30 countries, looked at the effects of these treatments on overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay in hospitalized patients.
- Other uses of the drugs, for example in treatment of patients in the community or for prevention, would have to be examined using different trials.
- The progress achieved by the Solidarity Therapeutics Trial shows that large international trials are possible, even during a pandemic, and offer the promise of quickly and reliably answering critical public health questions concerning therapeutics,”
- Newer antiviral drugs, immune-modulators and anti-SARS COV-2 monoclonal antibodies are now being considered for evaluation
- The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), an active partner in the trials, said in a statement, “ICMR has succeeded in conducting this large randomised controlled study even during a pandemic situation and earlier lockdown.
- This study reliably answers to critical public health questions concerning therapeutics.
ICMR PLACID Trial study:
- Earlier, ICMR conducted PLACID trial for convalescent plasma indicating no benefit of it in COVID treatment.”
- The trial comprised 26 actively randomizing sites with 937 participants in India.
We are looking at immunomodulators
- WHO chief scientist said on Wednesday that during the study, hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir were stopped in June after they proved ineffective, but other trials continued in more than 500 hospitals and 30 countries.
- We’re looking at what’s next. We’re looking at monoclonal anti-bodies, we’re looking at immunomodulators and some of the newer anti-viral drugs that have been developed in the last few months
5) Mission Shakti:
Uttar Pradesh government launched a 6-month long women empowerment programme ‘Mission Shakti’ on October 17, 2020.
- The initiative was launched in order to raise awareness and tackle crime against women in the state.
- Six month campaign has two phases- Mission Shakti’ and ‘Operation Shakti.
Mission Shakti – phase one
- This is the phase one of the campaign.
- It feature awareness campaigns related to women’s safety.
- Under this, awareness campaign such as gender-based sensitisation, training, corporate activity, interviews, voice messages, programmes in Durga Puja and other cultural pandals will be organised.
- This weeklong campaign will be launched every month to raise awareness among masses and sensitise the people on the subject.
- Women nodal officers will be appointed by government in all the districts under the campaign. They will execute and monitor the campaign.
- They will also raise awareness about the help lines numbers such as 1090, 181, 1076, 108 and 102.
This is the second phase of the campaign.
Under this, the police will prepare a register of persons have served the jail terms for crimes against women
6) The Global hunger index:
- It has been jointly prepared by Welhunger life and Concern Worldwide.
- This year, India has been ranked 94th Out of 107 countries.
- In 2018 was India ranked 103 while in 2019 India was ranked 102.
- The report ranked the countries on the basis of four indicators – undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality.
- The report has put India under “serious category” and has given the score of 27.2.
- The child stunting rate, for age group 0-5 years, in India was reported as 37.4 %.
- Wasting in child was reported as 17.3 %. Undernourishment rate of India is 14%. As per the report, child mortality rate is 3.7 %.
- Nepal has been ranked 73rd, Bangladesh has been ranked 75th while Pakistan has been ranked 88th this year.
Cause and Concerns
- The report highlights that the countries including India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan had faced concentrated stunting among children during 1991-2014.
- The primary reasons for stunting are household poverty, poor dietary diversity and low levels of maternal education.
- Further, the report states that, with this trajectory world will not be able to achieve zero hunger by 2030 which is one of the major sustainable development goals by United Nations.
- “Wasting” means the child is having low weight as per the height.
- “Undernourishment” is the share of population with insufficient caloric intake.
- “Stunting” means the child is having low height for their weight.
7) PMFME (PM Formalisation of Micro food Enterprises) scheme:
- This scheme will support 2 lakh micro food processing units with credit linked subsidy and would focus on supporting the SHGs, FPOs and cottage industry.
- Union Minister said that Ministry of food Processing and Industry is working with Commerce Ministry which has shortlisted ready to eat food and fruits and vegetables for its export markets.
- Government is moving towards branding of food products and creation of Market Development board.