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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs 3rd May, 2017

  • May 4, 2017
  • 1
IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs May 2017, IASbaba's Daily News Analysis, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 3rd May 2017

Archives

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General Studies 1

  • Food processing and related industries in India? scope and significance.
  • Public Distribution System – objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping.

Food Fortification

Introduction

India is facing cute problem of malnutrition. Lack of adequate supply of food in adequate amounts and quality is one concern. But lack of required nutrients is a bigger concern. Food fortification done in a scientific manner and on common foods will benefit a large population.

Malnutrition:

  • Malnutrition isn’t just about acute starvation.
  • It is true that healthy-looking people are malnourished too, because their diet does not include the right micronutrients.
  • For instance, iron deficiency leads to critical problems during pregnancy, and not enough Vitamin A can lead to poor vision, infections, and skin problems.

What is food fortification?

Fortification is adding vitamins and minerals to foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies. The nutrients regularly used in grain fortification prevent diseases, strengthen immune systems, and improve productivity and cognitive development. Wheat flour, maize flour, and rice are primarily fortified to:

  • Prevent nutritional anemia
  • Prevent neural tube birth defects
  • Increased productivity
  • Improve economic progress
  • Fortification is successful because it makes frequently eaten foods more nutritious without relying on consumers to change their habits.
  • Vitamins and minerals often used in flour and rice fortification and their role in health include:
  • Iron, riboflavin, folic acid, zinc, and vitamin B12 help prevent nutritional anemia which improves productivity, maternal health, and cognitive development.
  • Folic acid (vitamin B9) reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects
  • Zinc helps children develop, strengthens immune systems, and lessens complications from diarrhea.
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) prevents the skin disease known as pellagra.
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps with metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
  • Thiamin (vitamin B1) prevents the nervous system disease called beriberi.
  • Vitamin B12 maintains functions of the brain and nervous system.
  • Vitamin D helps bodies absorb calcium which improves bone health.
  • Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of childhood blindness. It also diminishes an individual’s ability to fight infections. Vitamin A can be added to wheat or maize flour, but it is often added to rice, cooking oils, margarine, or sugar instead.

Issue:

  • To tackle the issue of malnutrition, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) released a set of standards and a logo last year.
  • The focus has been on awareness- and consensus-building.
  • Now, a number of enterprises will begin adding premixes of micronutrients to launch fortified foods.
  • Milk cooperatives in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Assam and Maharashtra will fortify their products too.
  • Targeting children, the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh governments have begun using fortified oil for their mid-day meal schemes.
  • West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar Islands are now distributing fortified wheat flour through the public distribution system, and the Maharashtra government has started a pilot project.
  • The FSSAI is also working with small local suppliers, for instance local flour grinding mills, to get them to add premixed micronutrients.
  • The FSSAI has decided not to interfere in pricing.

Private Sector Participation:

  • Large private players are expected to join the league like –
    • General Mills India, ITC, Hindustan Unilever and Patanjali will launch wheat flour, Adani Wilmar, Marico, Borges India, and Kaleesuwari Refineries are working on oil, LT Foods, DCP Food, and KKR Food are launching rices, and in salt, other brands will join Tata, which already has a double fortified brand in the market.

Conclusion:

Innovative measures like food fortification can be a real boon to the problem of malnutrition in India. Government has to establish a framework w.r.t. the same and work on the guidelines for large scale and hassle free implementation.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically analyse the role of food fortification in tackling the problem of malnutrition in India.

 

HEALTH/NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

India’s Increased Policy Commitment towards HIV/AIDS

World Health Organisation (WHO) gave 2 key recommendations in its 2015 guidelines for treating and preventing HIV infection:

  1. First, antiretroviral therapy (ART) should be initiated in everyone living with HIV at any CD4 (a type of white-blood cell) cell count.
  2. Second, the use of daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is recommended as a prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV infection as part of combination prevention approaches.

The first of these recommendations is based on evidence from clinical trials and observational studies released since 2013 showing that – ‘earlier use of ART results in better clinical outcomes for people living with HIV compared with delayed treatment’.

The second recommendation is based on clinical trial results confirming the ‘efficacy of the ARV drug tenofovir for use as PrEP’ to prevent people from acquiring HIV in a wide variety of settings and populations.

Background:

  • It was in 2002 that the WHO first issued its ART guidelines. In the absence of AIDS-defining illnesses, the WHO set CD4 count less than 200 cells per cubic millimetre as the threshold to begin ART treatment.
  • Over time, it changed its guidelines and, in 2013, increased the threshold to CD4 count less than 500 cells per cu. Mm.
  • However in 2015, the WHO once again changed its guidelines. Based on evidence from clinical trials and observational studies since 2013, it became clear that an earlier use of ART, irrespective of the CD4 count, results in better clinical outcomes. Accordingly, it recommended that ART be initiated in HIV-positive people at any CD4 cell count.

India follows WHO’s recommendations

Two years after the WHO recommendations, India has aligned its policy with the above guideline.

  • As per 2015 estimates, India has 2.1 million HIV-positive people, of which only 1.6 million have been diagnosed and about a million are on treatment. But over half a million people are not even aware of their HIV status.
  • Health Ministry recently announced that any person who tests positive for HIV will be provided ART “as soon as possible and irrespective of the CD count or clinical stage”.
  • With the government changing its treatment guidelines, the 0.6 million who have been diagnosed but not been on treatment are now eligible for treatment.

The above move is considered to be a welcome move as nearly 4.5 lakh deaths can be averted. Earlier initiation of ART will help people with HIV live longer, remain healthier and “substantially reduce” the risk of them transmitting the virus to others.

But the biggest challenge will be to identify the 0.35 million who have been diagnosed but not on treatment and the 0.5 million who have been infected but have not been diagnosed. Also, nearly 80,000 people get infected each year.

There should be greater focus now on identifying people with HIV and expanding treatment delivery sites. The government should start community-based testing to bring it closer to those in need, and target special groups that are more vulnerable to infection such as partners of people who are HIV-positive.

HIV/AIDS:  first disease to be the subject of a UNSC resolution

In July 2000, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 1308, calling for “urgent and exceptional actions” to mitigate the threats posed by HIV/AIDS.

These exceptional actions referred to the need to provide exclusive responses and resources to mitigate the threat posed by HIV/AIDS.

As the first disease to be the subject of a UNSC resolution, the exceptional status of HIV/AIDS had brought about unprecedented levels of international funding allocated primarily in developing countries where responses to the disease have historically been scarce or non-existent. With financial assistance from international institutions and bilateral governments, HIV/AIDS responses intensified in many developing countries.

Declining trend of HIV/AIDS international financial assistance

However, there has been a stagnating and even declining trend of HIV/AIDS international financial assistance in recent years.

  • Data show that most European donor governments have reduced their HIV/AIDS financial commitments since 2012.

Moreover, in light of the continuous economic boom in countries such as India and China, international funding agencies now argue that these countries should be donors instead of recipients of international HIV/AIDS-specific grants and loans.

Without renewed and increased commitment from international donors and recipient governments, the sustainability of future national HIV/AIDS programmes is in doubt.

In response to the changing global health agenda, most of the countries are prioritising the integration of HIV/AIDS programmes into existing health-related systems.

Integration into health systems

An integration of HIV/AIDS interventions and primary health-care systems has taken place in India from 2010 onwards.

For instance, six components of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP)-III merged with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in 2010. These included –

  1. Integrated Counselling and Testing Centresers (ICTC);
  2. prevention of parent-to-child transmission (PPTCT);
  3. blood safety;
  4. sexually transmitted infections (STI) services;
  5. condom programming along with ;
  6. together with antiretroviral treatment (ART)

National AIDS Control Programme (NACP)-IV

The continued integration of HIV/AIDS responses under the umbrella health system is ongoing in the NACP-IV; where all the service delivery units except the targeted interventions (TIs) have been set up within the health-care system.

AIDS-free by 2030, India included

At the 2016 high-level meeting at the UN General Assembly, India pledged to follow targets to fast track the pace of progress towards ending HIV/AIDS as a public health threat in the next five years, and ending the epidemic by 2030.

  • To fulfil the commitment, the Government of India is now playing a larger role in funding its HIV/AIDS programmes — this is evident from the fact that two-thirds of the budget for the NACP-IV is provided by the Government of India and comes from the domestic budget.
  • Indian HIV/AIDS programmes have progressively become less dependent on foreign assistance considering that over 85% of the budgets in the first and second phases of the NACPs and 75% in the third phase were supported by international and bilateral funding mechanisms.
  • Ongoing improvement in the funding levels shows an increased policy commitment and fiscal capacity to address HIV/AIDS locally.

But in order to ensure the sustainability of the HIV/AIDS interventions, continuous integration of HIV/AIDS programmes into a larger health system is required. However, health care has never been a priority in India per se.

Despite rapid economic development over the past two decades, public expenditure on health care in India as a proportion of GDP is among the world’s lowest. Health expenditure in India was merely 1.3% in 2015-16, while countries such as Norway, Canada, and Japan allocated over 9% of GDP to health. India’s health-care expenditure is also comparatively less than other BRICS countries. The highest expenditure is by Brazil composing of 4.7% of its GDP. India’s overall health budget has declined by 13%, i.e. from Rs.35,780 crore in 2014-15 to Rs.31,501 crore in 2015-16.

Connecting the dots:

  • Elaborate on the Policy actions initiated by the government w.r.t. HIV AIDS and the necessary concerns associated. Highlight the provisions of the recent legislation.
  • What is HIV and how is it a life threatening disease? How has India battled against HIV? Critically examine.

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