Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
GS Paper II
Context: The topic of whether we feel that health is a fundamental human right, which India’s Constitution provides under the right to life, is brought up by the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and its implementation in India. Primary, secondary, and tertiary care for everyone who need it at a fair price without discrimination should be covered by the UHC.
The Definition of Health:
- The World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health goes beyond physical fitness to encompass mental and social well-being as well as happiness in addition to the absence of illness and impairment.
- Without addressing health determinants, we cannot attain health in its broader sense, necessitating an intersectoral convergence outside of the medical and health departments.
Difference between Primary health care (PHC) and Universal health care (UHC):
- The primary distinction between PHC and UHC is that although PHC is a level of treatment within the healthcare system, UHC is a more comprehensive objective that seeks to ensure that everyone has access to health care.
- PHC is frequently offered at the primary care level, but UHC covers all care levels, from primary to secondary to tertiary.
- Although UHC aspires to offer all people full health care services, PHC is concentrated on providing basic health care services and health promotion.
Health for All by 2000:
- Halfdan Mahler’s phrase, “Health for Everyone by 2000,” was accepted by the World Health Assembly in 1977. It makes the case that the idea of universal health care (UHC) was present as early as 1977.
- India pledged to achieve “Health for Everyone” by the year 2000 in its National Health Policy from 1983.
International Conference on PHC:
- Eight elements of a minimal standard of care for all residents were specified at the World Conference on Primary Health Care, held in Alma Ata in 1978.
- Included components are: It required all health promotion initiatives and disease preventive measures, including immunisations and the treatment of minor illnesses and injuries, to be provided free of charge to everyone using public funds, with a focus on the underprivileged.
- Components Not Included: Primary healthcare virtually entirely omitted the research and treatment of chronic conditions, including mental disorders. It was up to the person to seek secondary and tertiary treatment from a small number of public institutions or from the commercial sector by paying out of pocket.
Concerns around the Astana Declaration:
- The 2018 Astana statement, which encourages collaboration with business. The commercial private sector, which supports ultra-processed foods, alcohol, cigarettes, and other sources of industrial and vehicular pollution, is well-established.
- The Astana Declaration solely praises high-quality PHC as the foundation for universal health coverage and ignores more comprehensive universal health care, never addressing poverty, unemployment, or inadequate living conditions.
Every person has the right to health care without difficulties, disabilities, or death. Only individualism in public health, the new global approach to UHC, where no one is left unaccounted for or uncared for, can ensure that right. We should go forward with a more modern idea of UHC rather than cling to the Alma Ata proclamation of primary health care, which can be seen as a magnificent building of outdated ideas.
Source: The Hindu
GS Paper III
Context: The discussion on net neutrality has been reignited by India’s Cellular Operators Association (COAI), which has been proposing that sites like YouTube and WhatsApp pay a percentage of revenue to cover network expenses since November 2022.
Why in news?
- In response to the COAI’s requests, the Broadband India Forum (BIF), which is made up of Internet companies including Meta and Google, rejected them.
- The BIF disagreed with the COAI’s claim that the present demand had nothing to do with Net neutrality.
- The COAI maintained that the non-discriminatory handling of content unrelated to the use charge problem falls under the purview of net neutrality.
What is Net Neutrality?
- Net neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic should be handled similarly, without prejudice or preference being shown to particular users, websites, or categories of material.
- This implies that traffic should not be prioritised, blocked, or slowed down by internet service providers (ISPs) depending on its source, destination, or content.
- In order to provide an even playing field for all internet users and to foster innovation, competition, and online freedom of speech, net neutrality is thought to be crucial.
- In several nations, including India, the United States, and the European Union, it has been the focus of discussion and regulatory action.
Features of Net Neutrality:
- The following are some of the features of net neutrality:
- Non-discrimination: Internet service providers (ISPs) shall not discriminate against or provide preference to any kind of content, application, service, or device based on its source, destination, or ownership. All data should be handled equally.
- Transparency: ISPs must give customers accurate and detailed information about all aspects of their internet services, including pricing, terms of service, and network management procedures.
- ISPs should not censor or prevent customers’ access to, usage of, transmission of, or supply of, legal material, apps, services, or equipment via the internet.
- No throttling: Internet service providers (ISPs) shall not consciously slow down or degrade the performance of any legal material, application, service, or gadget that users desire to access, use, communicate, or offer online.
- ISPs shall not grant any content, applications, services, or devices quicker or better access in return for money, other benefits, or other consideration from content suppliers, developers, or consumers.
- Competition: By forbidding internet service providers (ISPs) from favouring their own content, applications, services, or gadgets over those of their rivals, partners, affiliates, or subsidiaries, net neutrality encourages competition among ISPs.
Arguments for and against the usage fee:
- A use tax, even on a small number of major players, would, according to net neutrality advocates and content providers, lead to a distortion of the Internet’s design.
- They claim that without paying each other, content producers and telecom carriers have a mutually beneficial relationship.
- The COAI, however, contends that a network tax is unrelated to Net neutrality and urges the government to lower spectrum rates and provide telecom businesses with funding through the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
- Similar use fees are being requested from content producers by telecom carriers throughout the globe.
TRAI ruling and the Unified License:
- The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) voted in favour of Net neutrality in 2016, which calls for the same treatment of all Internet data.
- The Unified License, which binds all telecom operators and Internet providers, was updated in 2018 to include the net neutrality principle.
Source: The Hindu
India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline (IBFP)
GS Paper II
Context: The 131.5-kilometer-long India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline (IBFP), which runs from Siliguri in North Bengal to Parbatipur in Bangladesh’s Dinajpur region, was officially opened by the Prime Minister and his Bangladeshi counterpart.
India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline (IBFP):
- IBFP is a cross-border energy pipeline that links Parbatipur in Bangladesh’s Dinajpur district to Siliguri in West Bengal, India.
- It can move 1 million metric tonnes of high-speed diesel (HSD) per year (MMTPA) from India to Bangladesh.
- The pipeline aims to improve energy cooperation between Bangladesh and India and promote inter-personal ties between the two nations.
- In September 2018, work on the pipeline’s construction got underway.
Importance of IBFPL to Bangladesh:
- Bangladesh is now dealing with a serious energy shortage that might obstruct its development.
- Power outages are common throughout the nation, including in the capital city of Dhaka, which has a severe effect on important export businesses like the ready-to-wear industry.
- The Indian government has started a number of projects to assist Bangladesh in meeting its increasing energy needs in an effort to solve this issue.
- One such project that will be essential in alleviating the nation’s energy need is the IBFPL.
- The pipeline will swiftly deliver diesel into Bangladesh, easing the nation’s dependency on importing petroleum product from India in oil tankers through road and rail.
Other projects to meet Bangladesh’s energy demands:
- Maitree project: Bangladesh is the recipient of a concessional finance plan from India that is being used to build the US $2 billion project. In Bangladesh’s Khulna region, the Maitree Super Thermal Power Production’s first unit is already delivering 660 MW to the nation’s grid.
- Bangladesh is also waiting for power from the 1600 Megawatt thermal power plant owned by the Adani Group in Godda, Jharkhand. To satisfy Bangladesh’s peak summer demand, discussions are now being held to import at least 600 MW of power from this facility.
- The Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL), a 50:50 joint venture between Bangladesh Power Development Board and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation, was established by the two nations. This will be Bangladesh’s biggest power plant once it is finished.
Why is India helping Bangladesh?
- Bangladesh’s support from India in obtaining its energy requirements also aims to reduce Bangladesh’s reliance on China.
- China has made $8.31 billion in investments in Bangladesh’s energy industry.
- Beijing has further committed to support Bangladesh’s switch to renewable energy.
Source: The Hindu
High Background Radiation in Kerala
GS Paper III
Context: In the article, researchers from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) highlight a pan-Indian investigation they did that revealed Kerala had background radiation levels that are over three times higher than previously thought.
What is Background Radiation?
- The amount of ionising radiation in the environment at a certain area that isn’t the result of intentional introduction of radiation sources is known as background radiation.
- There are many different natural and man-made sources of background radiation.
Nuclear Radiation and its Types:
- There are three main types of nuclear radiation: alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays.
- In essence, helium nuclei, alpha particles are formed of two protons and two neutrons. They may be stopped by a sheet of paper or the top layer of skin since they carry a positive charge and are rather massive and weighty.
- High-energy electrons known as beta particles are released from an atom’s nucleus. They are smaller than alpha particles and contain a negative charge, thus they may enter the body via the skin.
- Similar to X-rays, gamma rays are high-energy electromagnetic radiation. They have no charge and are released from an atom’s nucleus. They can penetrate a wide range of materials, including the human body, and travel over vast distances via air.
How is it measured?
- The Indian atomic energy organisation has embraced the maximum radiation exposure standards set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
- The annual average for the general public should not be more than 1 milliSievert, and the annual average for individuals who work in plants or are exposed as a result of their line of work should not be more than 30 milliSievert.
- In most cases, it is expressed in nanogray per second. A (nGy/s) is a decimal portion of the absorbed dose rate of ionising radiation that was derived from the SI.
Factors affecting such radiation:
- We are surrounded by background radiation from nature.
- Depending on the concentration of naturally occurring radioactive elements in soil, water, and air, background radiation fluctuates from place to location and throughout time.
- The amount of radiation is also influenced by the weather since radioactive particles can be washed out of the air during rainstorms and may be shielded by snow cover.
- Natural background radiation is influenced by cosmic radiation that is continually emitted by the sun, our galaxy, and other celestial bodies.
- The amount of background radiation at any given place can also vary depending on latitude and altitude.
How threatening is it?
- All rocks and soils have a small amount of naturally occurring radioactivity, which can occasionally be consumed or breathed if disturbed.
- In addition to its breakdown products, radon is a gas that may concentrate inside and be ingested.
- Moreover, radioactivity may enter our bodies through the food we consume and the water we drink.
- The yearly background radiation dosage that you and your family experience depends on a variety of factors.
- Gamma rays are a common example of this kind of radiation since they may travel through matter unhindered, are safe in tiny doses, but can be harmful in concentrated bursts.
Findings of the BARC Study:
- According to the study, India’s average background radiation exposure to gamma rays is 94 nGy/hr (or around 0.8 millisievert/year).
- Such radiation was calculated to be 89 nGy/hr in the most recent research, completed in 1986.
- The levels in Kerala’s Kollam district were discovered to be 9,562 nGy/hr, or around three times higher than predicted, according to the research.
- This equates to an annual exposure of roughly 70 milliGray, or slightly more than what a worker in a nuclear plant would experience.
- Nevertheless, because previous research has not discovered any increased incidence of cancer or mortality, this does not necessarily imply that residents in Kollam are being exposed to unsafe amounts of radiation.
Reasons for Higher Radiation Levels in Kerala:
- As part of India’s long-term strategy to sustainably create nuclear fuel, monazite sands with a high thorium content are thought to be the cause of the elevated radiation levels in Kollam.
- Due to the presence of granite and basaltic volcanic rock, which include uranium reserves, southern India has greater radiation levels.
Source: Indian Express
How India’s Sugar Exports to the world are surging?
GS Paper III
Context: The value of India’s sugar exports has increased dramatically from $810.9 million in 2017–18 to $4.6 billion in 2021–22, and they may even surpass $5.5 billion in the fiscal year that ends on March 31.
- The growth is notable both qualitatively and quantitatively, with India’s shipments rising from just 0.46 lakh tonnes in 2016–17 to 110 lakh tonnes in 2021–22.
- India is today No. 2 in the world for sugar exports, trailing only Brazil, up from being a minor participant five years ago.
- Indonesia (16.73 lt), Bangladesh (12.10 lt), Saudi Arabia (6.83 lt), Iraq (4.78 lt), and Malaysia were the top importers of Indian raw sugar (4.15 lt).
- 53.71 lt of white, refined sugar was also exported from the country, with the top recipients being Afghanistan (7.54 lt), Somalia (5.17 lt), Djibouti (4.90 lt), Sri Lanka (4.27 lt), China (2.58 lt), and Sudan (1.08 lt).
- The European Union, which manufactures sugar from beet, as opposed to India and Brazil, who solely crush cane, has seen the greatest fall in exports: from 39.74 lt in 2017–18 to 8.02 lt in 2021–22.
Which grades of sugar does India export?
- Once the liquid produced from cane crushing initially crystallises, mills generate raw sugar.
- This sugar has an ICUMSA value of 600-1,200 or more and is coarse and brownish in colour.
- The ICUMSA scale uses colour to determine the sugar’s purity.
- At refineries, the contaminants and colour from this raw sugar are removed.
- The final product is white cane sugar that has been processed and has an ICUMSA standard value of 45.
- Up to 2017–18, India mostly exported plantation white sugar, sometimes referred to as low-quality whites or LQW in foreign markets, with an ICUMSA value of 100–150.
Reasons behind India’s surge in sugar exports:
- Unlike Brazilian raw sugar, Indian raw sugar doesn’t include dextran.
- In comparison to raw materials from Brazil, Thailand, and Australia, Indian mills can provide raw materials with a very high polarisation of 98.5–99.5%.
- While LQW sells at a $40/tonne discount to the international pricing (London No. 5 futures) for 45 ICUMSA whites, Indian raws presently command a 4% premium over the global benchmark (New York No. 11 futures contract) price.
- In December 2019, Indonesia decided to change its regulations to allow imports from India, which aided India’s attempts to encourage raw material exports.
Source: Indian Express
Facts for Prelims
- The goal of TN-KET is to lower the death rate among TB patients.
- The frequency of early TB fatalities has already been significantly reduced since this campaign, which started in April 2022.
- This is the main goal of the effort, which is to determine whether patients with TB require hospitalisation or ambulatory treatment to manage their severe illness at the time of diagnosis.
- The recommendations call for a thorough evaluation of 16 clinical, laboratory, and radiographic criteria.
- It was discovered that it was possible to diagnose patients quickly using a preliminary examination based on just three conditions: very severe undernutrition, respiratory insufficiency, and being unable to stand alone.
- The above elements significantly reduce the delay and increase the likelihood of saving lives.
- The effort has succeeded in reaching its initial goals of 80% patient triage, 80% referral, 80% thorough examination, 80% confirmation of serious disease, and 80% admission among confirmed.
- Increasing the length of stay is a difficulty, particularly for patients who have extremely acute undernutrition, who make up 50% of the hospitalised patients.
- The manned submersible vehicle MATSYA 6000 was created domestically.
- It will make deep ocean exploration easier for the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
- According to the ANI news agency, it may last for 12 hours during an operational time and 96 hours during an emergency.
- The manned submersible will enable research experts to directly examine and comprehend uncharted deep-sea regions.
- Samudrayaan is a massive ocean/sea-related project that was launched in October 2021.
- The goal is to create “a self-propelled manned submersible to take three humans to an ocean depth of 6,000 metres with a set of scientific instruments and deep ocean research gear.
- It aims to conduct deep ocean exploration for non-living resources, such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulphides, and cobalt crusts, that are found at a depth of between 1000 and 5500 metres.
- There are nine coastal states and 1,382 islands along India’s 7517 kilometres of coastline, which is in a unique marine location.
- The mission intends to advance the central government’s vision of a “New India,” which places a strong emphasis on the Blue Economy as one of the top ten growth-related factors.
- With the seas on three of its sides and around 30% of the people living along the shore, the coastal regions are important for India’s economy.
- It promotes aquaculture, tourism, subsistence, and blue trade.