Current Affairs for UPSC – 26 July

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Govt. intervention sought for Hepatitis C treatment

In absence of a policy intervention for Hepatitis C, civil society and legal aid organisations have put together a policy brief, calling upon the government to take concerted action to address the right to health of people living with HCV (PLHCV).

Background:

HCV is a significantly bigger epidemic than HIV and yet, there has been considerably less awareness about it. While HIV testing and treatment are free of cost through the government programme, HCV is not supported in any way. Despite the estimated disease burden of 8.7 million Hepatitis C patients, India does not have data and, therefore, does not have appropriate budgets to address the concerns of the patients.

Also, the price of treatment of HCV has become a global concern with the Indian government granting patent for the drug Sofosbuvir to American pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences. While Gilead’s Sofosbuvir is priced at almost $84,000 for an entire course in the U.S., generic Indian companies are selling their versions for less than $200 for a full course.

What is hepatitis?

“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. Hepatitis is also the name of a family of viral infections that affect the liver; the most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

What is the difference between Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are diseases caused by three different viruses. Although each can cause similar symptoms, they have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently. Hepatitis A appears only as an acute or newly occurring infection and does not become chronic. People with Hepatitis A usually improve without treatment. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can also begin as acute infections, but in some people, the virus remains in the body, resulting in chronic disease and long-term liver problems. There are vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B; however, there is not one for Hepatitis C. If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, it is still possible to get the other types.

What is Hepatitis C?

This is a transmissible disease — it spreads the same way as HIV — and if not treated can lead to chronic conditions of the liver such as liver cirrhosis, cancer or failure. With an estimated disease burden of 8.7 million patients, HCV kills nearly six times as many people as HIV.

Spread:

The hepatitis C virus is a blood borne virus and the most common modes of infection are through unsafe injection practices, inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.

Feed the future’ programme launched

The Union Agriculture Ministry and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have launched the second phase of the “Feed the Future” India triangular training programme.

About “Feed the Future” programme:

This programme aims to bring specialised agriculture training to 1,500 agricultural professionals across Africa and Asia.

  • The programme builds upon five decades of joint work utilising science and technology to bring innovative solutions to the challenges facing farmers. The programme is expected to enable India and the U.S. to share these farming techniques worldwide, helping countries in Africa and Asia revolutionise their agriculture practices and ultimately, improve global nutrition levels.
  • Led by the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management- MANAGE, the programme will train agricultural professionals from 17 countries in Africa and Asia on specialised farming practices such as agricultural marketing, dairy management, food processing and ways to prevent post-harvest losses.

Background:

The pilot project launched in 2010 focused on the three African Countries i.e., Kenya, Liberia and Malawi with potential to expand throughout the African Continent in the days to come. The effort included Triangular Cooperation adapting technological advances and innovative solutions to address Food Security Challenges in Africa.

Short News

World’s largest Yazidi temple under construction in Armenia

A huge Yazidi temple is under construction in a small Armenian village, intended as a symbol of resilience for a persecuted religious tradition. Named Quba Mere Diwane, this will be the largest Yazidi temple in the world, although there are relatively few contenders. Yazidis are the largest minority group in Armenia, with a population of about 35,000, although many have left or are leaving to find work elsewhere, particularly in Russia. They originated in eastern Turkey and northern Iraq, but many were killed or driven out of Turkey during the bloody rule of the Ottoman Empire. Yazidis describe themselves as “a people of 72 genocides”. The Yazidi faith is derived from Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. They have been denounced as infidels by Islamic extremists, and unfairly accused of being devil-worshippers.

Zika-transmitting mosquito identified

Brazilian scientists have identified another type of Zika-transmitting mosquito, responsible for over 1,700 cases of microcephaly in newborns in the South American country since October 2015. It was announced that researchers found the presence of the Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito infected by the Zika virus in three out of 80 groups of mosquitoes analyzed up until now. Up until now, transmission of the virus was only known through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same insect that spreads dengue and chikungunya. Brazil is currently in a state of health emergency due to the increase in detected microcephaly cases in newborns, attributed to the Zika virus, even though the link between the disease and the virus has still to be scientifically confirmed.

India’s First Green Rail Corridor Launched In Tamil Nadu

The nation’s first Green Rail Corridor, a 114-km long Rameswaram-Manamadurai stretch in Tamil Nadu which ensures zero toilet discharge on rail tracks, was recently inaugurated by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu. Trains in the section have been equipped with bio-toilets ensuring zero discharge of human waste on the rail tracks. In these toilets, anaerobic bacteria – developed by DRDO and hence called ‘DRDO Bacteria’ – converts human waste into water and gas which is released through outlets. Water is subjected to chlorination and then discharged outside and the long-term impact will be a clean and environmental-friendly track that also facilitates a healthy working condition for those working on railway tracks.