August 2019

Daily Current Affairs (21-08-19)


Related Topics: Public Health, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)


  • The Breast Milk Bank project titled Nectar of Life proposed by the Neonatology Forum (NNF), Kerala has got support from the Rotary International to set up the first bank in Ernakulam.
  • The Indian Medical Association, Kochi, has joined with NNF-Kerala to open breast milk banks in the Ernakulam District General Hospital and the Jubilee Mission Hospital, Thrissur.

About Breast Milk Bank

  • There are many mothers who are not able to produce breast milk for various medical reasons.
  • A breast milk bank is expected to provide solutions to all such babies who required intensive care at birth or are not able to be breastfed immediately for various other reasons.
  • Pasteurised donor human milk from a milk bank helps the baby to develop and also reassures parents that their baby is receiving the best substitute possible.
  • Any lactating mother can donate to the bank.
  • The milk stored in the bank will be pasteurised and would follow the international guidelines for safety.
  • The Bank helps the baby not just with the feed, but gives protection from many infections because of its inherent property to provide immunity to the infant.

Following WHO Guidelines

  • World Health Organisation has said that breast milk is “tailor made” for human infants.
  • If for some reason, mother is not able to feed the infant, her milk should be expressed and fed, according to WHO.
  • The Neonatology Forum had been following this diktat and insists that the newborns are aggressively breastfed in the first hour.


  • The report, ‘Capture The Moment’, by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), says that delaying breastfeeding after birth can be life threatening.
  • The UNICEF-WHO report ‘Nurturing The Health And Wealth Of Nations: The Investment Case For Breastfeeding’ notes that India, along with Indonesia, China, Mexico and Nigeria, accounts for more than 236,000 child deaths every year due to inadequate breastfeeding.
  • Only 41.5% of infants in India receives breast milk within the first hour of birth.

Link between Breastfeeding and Under-Five Mortality Rate

  • The composite score is given for states based on percentage values of the following indicators: initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding until six months, and complementary feeding until nine months.
  • Most States with an above average score have a lower under-five child mortality rate while States with a poor composite score tend to have a higher under-five child mortality rate (per 1,000 live births).
  • Uttar Pradesh has a composite score of 3.32, the lowest, and under-five mortality rate of 78, the highest, in India. Manipur has the highest composite score (7.27) and is one of the best performing States for under-five mortality rate (26).

[Source: The Hindu, Livemint]



Related Topics: Environment & Biodiversity, Air Pollution


  • A new report by Greenpeace shows that India is the largest emitter of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the world, contributing more than 15 per cent of global anthropogenic emissions.
  • The analysis is based on hotspots detected by NASA Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) satellite data that captured more than 500 major source points of SO2 emissions across the globe including natural sources such as volcanoes.
  • Norilsk smelter complex in Russia is the largest SO2 emission hotspot in the world, followed by Kriel in Mpumalanga province in South Africa and Zagroz in Iran.


  • According to the analysis, air pollution is a huge public health concern, with 91 per cent of the world’s population living in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds guideline limits by the World Health Organization (WHO) and as a result, 4.2 million people die prematurely every year.
  • The largest source of SO2 in the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels in power plants and other industrial facilities.

Global Scenario

  • In Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey, emissions are currently not increasing — however, there is not a lot of progress in tackling them either.
  • Of the world’s major emitters, China and the United States has been able to reduce emissions
  • They have achieved this feat by switching to clean energy sources; China, in particular, has achieved success by dramatically improving emission standards and enforcement for sulphur dioxide control.

SO2 Emissions in India

  • The Primary reason for India’s high emission output is the expansion of coal-based electricity generation over the past decade.
  • Five of the top 10 SO2 emission hotspots from coal/power generation industry across the world are in India.
  • The major SO2 emission hotspots in India are Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh, Neyveli and Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Talcher and Jharsuguda in Odisha, Korba in Chhattisgarh, Kutch in Gujarat, Ramagundam in Telangana and Chandrapur and Koradi in Maharashtra.
  • The vast majority of plants in India lack flue-gas desulfurization technology to reduce their air pollution, according to the analysis.

Preventive Measures by GoI

  • In December 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had introduced for the first time SO2 emission limits for coal power plants with an initial deadline to retrofit technology to control SO2 emissions from power generation by December 2017.
  • At the request of the Ministry of Power and power plant operators, this was later extended till December 2019 for power plants in Delhi-NCR and till 2022 for some other power plants across the country through a Supreme Court order.
[Sources: The Hindu, Indian Express, Down To Earth]



Related Topics: Science & Technology, Anti Microbial Resistance


  • Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration have approved a three-drug regimen against the most lethal form of multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, known as the XDR (extensively drug-resistant) strain.
  • The treatment involves pretomanid tablets in combination with bedaquiline and linezolid and has an efficacy rate of 90 per cent.
  • This three-drug regimen is collectively known as BPaL regimen and it can cure highly drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis by drastically shortening treatment period.


  • There are 1,14,237 MDR-TB patients globally, of which more than 8,000 are XDR-TB, according to 2018 WHO TB update.
  • The success rate of treatment for XDR-TB in India is merely 23 per cent.
  • The new drug regimen is important for countries like India, which has the second-highest burden to XDR-TB patients in the world, after

What is XDR TB?

  • It is a form of TB which is resistant to at least four of the core anti-TB drugs.
  • XDR-TB involves resistance to the two most powerful anti-TB drugs, isoniazid and rifampicin, also known as multidrug-resistance (MDR-TB).
  • In addition, it involves resistance to any of the fluoroquinolones (such as levofloxacin or moxifloxacin) and to at least one of the three injectable second-line drugs (amikacin, capreomycin or kanamycin).

How XDR TB is different from MDR TB?

  • When TB infection becomes resistant to the first line of treatment — isoniazid and rifampicin, it is called MDR-TB.
  • When the infection becomes resistant even to the second-line treatment, it is called XDR-TB.

How do people get XDR-TB?

  • People may get XDR-TB in one of two ways.
  • It may develop in a patient who is receiving treatment for active TB, when anti-TB drugs are misused or mismanaged, and is usually a sign of inadequate clinical care or drug management.
  • The second way that people can develop XDR-TB is by becoming infected from a patient who is already ill with the condition. Patients with TB of the lungs can spread the disease by coughing, sneezing, or simply talking.

Can XDR-TB be cured or treated?

  • XDR-TB patients can be cured, but with the current drugs available, the likelihood of success is much smaller than in patients with ordinary TB or even MDR-TB.
  • Cure depends on the extent of the drug resistance, the severity of the disease and whether the patient’s immune system is compromised.


  • People living with HIV are at greater risk of developing TB – as well as XDR-TB – than people without HIV, because of their weakened immunity.
  • In places where XDR-TB strains circulate more frequently, people with HIV are therefore more likely to be infected with XDR-TB than elsewhere.
  • To date, in most of the places with high rates of HIV infection, XDR-TB has not been widespread.

Way Forward

  • Global TB control requires a sustained commitment by scientific, political and financial authorities.
  • One of the first priorities should be given to effectively diagnose XDR-TB in clinical practice by increasing the laboratory capacity
  • New research in the areas involving application of molecular biology in the field of epidemiology could help in better understanding of the mechanisms leading to drug resistance, development of newer diagnostic tools and effective drugs to control DR-TB.
  • The effective management of XDR-TB depends on judicious prescription of second line drugs (SLDs) to reduce morbidity and mortality and transmission based on the current scenario.
  • TB control programmes should emphasize on policies focusing on the effective use of first-line drugs in every new patient so as to prevent the emergence of MDR-TB, XDR-TB and XXDR-TB or TDR-TB.

[Sources: WHO, Indian Journal of Medical Research, Down To Earth, Indian Express]



Related Topics: Right to Vote, NRC, Foreigners Tribunal


With barely 10 days left for the publication of the final National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Election Commission (EC) is now faced with the legal question whether those excluded should be marked as ‘D’ (Doubtful) voters.

Who are ‘D’ voters?

  • ‘D’ voters are a category of voters in Assam whose citizenship is doubtful or under dispute.
  • The system of ‘D’ voters was introduced in 1997 by the Election Commission which prepared a list of people who could not provide evidence in favour of their Indian nationality.

Voting Rights

  • While ‘D’ voters continue to remain on Assam’s electoral roll, they cannot vote in an election unless their case is decided by a Foreigners’ Tribunal.
  • Around 1.2 lakh ‘D’ voters did not participate in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.
  • However, those excluded from the draft NRC were allowed to vote.

Who is a declared foreigner?

  • D-voters are tried by special tribunals under the Foreigners’ Act and if they fail to defend their citizenship claim, they are marked as declared foreigners and sent to any of six detention camps, which are within jails for criminals, for deportation.
  • There were 91,206 declared foreigners as on December 31, 2017.

What is Foreigners Tribunal?

  • They are quasi-judicial bodies meant to “furnish opinion on the question as to whether a person is or is not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • If a person doesn’t find his or her name in the final NRC, he/she could move the Tribunal.
  • The MHA has recently amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964, and has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up foreigners tribunals.
  • Earlier, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre.

[Sources: The Hindu, Indian Express]


                FACTS OF THE DAY

  • Punjab government has launched a mega health insurance scheme namely Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana (MGSSBY) by merging Ayushman Bharat or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) with its own Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana (SSBY). The Scheme would extend to over 76% of its population, in sharp contrast to 12% that would have been covered under Centre’s PMJAY.
  • DRDO has transferred the design of Mobile Metallic Ramp (MMR) to Indian Army. It has been designed and developed on requirements projected by Army for reducing Strategic Mobility time of mobilising Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) and has a load bearing capacity of 70 metric ton (MT).
  • United Nations observes 21 August as International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.
  • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad have found that fly ash, the waste by-product of power plants that poses a threat to the environment, can be modified into a waterproofing material.



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