IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 9th June 2018
Uranium contamination in aquifers
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Government interventions in key sectors
- Aquifers in as many as 16 States in the country are contaminated by uranium, whose presence in drinking water has been linked to chronic kidney disease by several studies, a recent study has shown.
- The main source of this contamination is natural, but groundwater depletion by extensive withdrawal of water for irrigation and nitrite pollution due to the excessive use of nitrogenous fertilisers may be exacerbating the problem, said the study.
- The WHO has set 30 parts per billion as the provisional safe drinking water standard for uranium.
- Uranium doesn’t figure on the list of contaminants monitored under the Bureau of Indian Standards’ drinking water specifications.
80% of Indian population pays out-of-pocket payments on medicines
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Government interventions in key sectors
- India is touted as the world’s pharmacy bowl, but ironically a large chunk of its population slips below the poverty line due to exorbitantly priced medicines, mostly for cancer, injuries and heart ailments.
- A study published in British Medical Journal (BMJ) points out that the proportion of the population reporting out-of-pocket (OOP) payments on medicines has increased from about 60 per cent in 1993-1994 to 80 per cent in 2011-12. The study is the first ever attempt to link health expenditure to disease conditions.
- In 2011-12, OOP for medicines pushed about 3.8 crore persons into poverty, of the 5.5 crore that were impoverished due to total health costs, including lab tests, diagnostics, doctor and surgeon fees.
- Households incur the highest monthly per-capita OOP on account of cancer followed by injuries and cardiovascular diseases.
TOPIC:General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Multiple engagements: Indian diplomacy
In his keynote address to the Shangri La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had articulated India’s geopolitical conception of the Indo-Pacific.
As India becomes a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), the PM will have an opportunity to expand on India’s idea of Eurasia at the annual summit of the organisation in Qingdao, China.
SLD and SCO:
Like the two ideas — Indo-Pacific and Eurasia — the SLD and SCO are quite different.
The SLD is a forum that brings together the Asian defence establishments and the strategic community. It is increasingly preoccupied with the sharpening maritime conflicts in the Indo-Pacific.
The SCO is an effort by China and Russia to consolidate a continental coalition in the heart of Asia.
India’s engagement in all directions:
India is one of the few powers straddling the maritime and continental coalitions.
- Barely a day before PM Modi travels to the SCO summit, senior Indian officials met with their counterparts from the US, Japan and Australia in Singapore to offer an endorsement of the Indo-Pacific conception.
- India’s engagement with the US and Japan (the triad) has steadily advanced through this decade.
- India continues to sit with the Russians and Chinese in a trilateral forum as well as the BRICS with Brazil and South Africa.
India is not the only one that embarks on partnerships that appear contradictory. All countries do it.
Engaging in both directions:
The principal question for Indian foreign policy is not whether India should engage both sides. It is about how best it can maximise the gains in both directions. Delhi must look for stronger ties with both the maritime and continental powers.
- Most of India’s trade, investment, technology and cultural ties are currently with the maritime powers. It is in the Western world, especially in the Anglo-Saxon states, that the Indian diaspora has flourished. The US and the European powers are also increasingly important security partners for India.
- The continental construct, in contrast, is about managing India’s intractable problems. Unresolved territorial disputes with China and Pakistan have resulted in the militarisation of its northern borders and blocked India’s access to the inner Asian space.
SCO: New opportunities
- The SCO opens possibilities for limiting the conflict with China through greater regional cooperation on countering terrorism, religious extremism and pacifying conflict zones in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- The SCO offers a platform to construct sustained high-level engagement with Central Asia and strengthen the traditional collaboration with Russia in inner Asia.
Inevitable contradictions may arise from the dual engagement. Indian diplomacy thus needs to manage contradictions. India needs a balancing act between the growing strategic partnership with the US on the one hand, and its renewed effort at holding onto Russia and advancing the complex relationship with China.
Connecting the dots:
- India needs a balancing act between the growing strategic partnership with the US on the one hand, and its renewed effort at holding onto Russia and advancing the complex relationship with China. Discuss.
General Studies 2:
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.
General Studies 3:
- Inclusive growth and issues arising from it
Branded Generic Drugs: Strengthening Indian healthcare
Till the year 2001, the drugs available to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) — a common cancer of white blood cells — weren’t satisfactory. The only treatment which provided a long-term respite was bone marrow transplant. This was not only an expensive procedure, but also complex — largely because not many centres were carrying it out at that juncture.
Then, around 2003, Glivec (scientific name — Imatinib) came into the market and revolutionised the treatment of the disease. One pill a day could control leukemia. However, due to its cost, the drug was beyond the reach of many. The cost is justified scientifically, but from a patient’s perspective, it is not fair.
So, after the drug went off-patent, it was manufactured by dozens of Indian pharmaceutical companies. Today, a pack of 10 costs around Rs. 3,000.
Currently, branded generics are helping to bring down the cost, apart from increasing accessibility without compromising on quality. It is a solution for an economy like ours, which doesn’t follow strict regulations on quality.
Branded generics is the best approach to achieve universal healthcare.
- Despite the affordability, unbranded generics cannot provide quality assurance. It is easier for branded generics to maintain quality as they follow regulations.
- Blatantly promoting generics will boomerang sooner or later, if issues around quality of such drugs are not attended. It is time we bring back ‘care’ into health, by ensuring quality, accessibility, availability and affordability.
- The regulatory system for quality checks should be extremely robust wherein not just doctors, but even the patients and pharmacists feel confident in using any medicine under a salt name.
- There should be stringent parameters to allow manufacturers to market medicines and it must be ensured that these are adhered to.
- A system should be put in place where any violation should lead to cancellation of licences or other such other stringent penalties.
The onus to fulfil the vision of quality in healthcare delivery is not only on the doctors but also on the government, drug manufacturers, hospitals and better-informed patients who would not settle for substandard quality. This is doable, not impossible.
Connecting the dots:
- Branded generics can help to bring down the healthcare cost and increase accessibility without compromising on quality. Discuss.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
Q.1) Which of the following statements is/are true regarding the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation?
- It is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organisation.
- The organisation is headquatered in Astana.
- India is a full member of the organisation since its inception.
Select the correct option
- 1 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3
- None of the above
A vicious cycle
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