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18th October Current Affairs

Impact of COVID-19 on TB elimination efforts

(GS-II: Issues related to health)

In News:

The Global TB report has been released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Key findings:

The world suffered huge reverses in progress towards tuberculosis (TB) elimination in 2020, thanks to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The biggest impact was felt in terms of detection of new cases. This means a large number of cases went undetected due to highly curtailed access to diagnostics and restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic. From 2016-2019, the number of new cases rose continuously, but fell dramatically to 20 per cent in 2020.

The big global drop in notifications of TB cases in 2020, as compared with 2019, means that the gap between the number of people who actually got the disease and the new people who got diagnosed “widened substantially” in 2020. The report estimated that gap to be around 4.1 million cases.

India contributed the biggest drop in detection of new cases. Some 41 per cent of the total number of cases that dropped in 2020, as compared to 2019, came from India. Thus, a large chunk of TB cases went missing in the country.

The biggest fallout of the decline in notification of new cases is that it has resulted in an increase in TB deaths. TB was ranked the 13th leading cause of death globally till 2019. Thanks to huge setbacks, it is now estimated to be the second leading cause, only after COVID-19.

The ‘End TB Strategy’ milestones for reductions in TB disease burden by 2020 were a 35 per cent reduction in the number of TB deaths. Instead, the global reduction in the corresponding time period has only been 9.2 per cent.

What is TB?

TB is an infectious disease caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

It typically affects the lungs (pulmonary TB) but can also affect other sites.

The disease is spread when people who are sick with pulmonary TB expel bacteria into the air, for example by coughing.

India’s efforts in this regard:

India is aggressively implementing its fully-funded National Strategic Plan to End TB.

In the last few years, 50 million people have been treated.

India seeks to achieve national scale-up of TB preventive treatment (TPT).

It also seeks to achieve the UN High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) targets of 40 million persons started on TB treatment and 30 million on TPT globally in the remaining 18 months.

Sub-national Certification of States and Districts instituted in 2020- The initiative marks districts/States-UTs on “Progress towards TB Free Status” under different categories measured with graded milestones of decline in TB incidence.

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

IFC stake in Federal Bank Ltd has resulted in no new coal commitment.

What’s the issue?

The international body had demanded in July 2021 that India’s 7th largest commercial bank should put a stop to coal financing.

The bank is a key lender to firms such as Jindal Steel Works (JSW) Energy Ltd and Adani Power Rajasthan Ltd.

This is expected to impact India’s energy production.

About the International Finance Corporation (IFC):

It is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private sector development in developing countries.

It is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.

It was established in 1956 as the private sector arm of the World Bank Group to advance economic development by investing in strictly for-profit and commercial projects that purport to reduce poverty and promote development.

The IFC is owned and governed by its member countries, but has its own executive leadership and staff that conduct its normal business operations.

It is a corporation whose shareholders are member governments that provide paid-in capital and which have the right to vote on its matters.

Roles and functions:

Since 2009, the IFC has focused on a set of development goals that its projects are expected to target. Its goals are to increase sustainable agriculture opportunities, improve healthcare and education, increase access to financing for microfinance and business clients, advance infrastructure, help small businesses grow revenues, and invest in climate health.

It offers an array of debt and equity financing services and helps companies face their risk exposures while refraining from participating in a management capacity.

It advises governments on building infrastructure and partnerships to further support private sector development.

COP26 climate conference

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

The UK will host the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference from October 31 to November 12.

This year marks the 26th Conference of Parties (thus the name COP26) and will be held in the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow.

What is the Conference of Parties?

COP comes under the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) which was formed in 1994.

The UNFCCC was established to work towards “stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”

COP members have been meeting every year since 1995 (COP1 was held in 1995 in Berlin).

It laid out a list of responsibilities for the member states which included:

Formulating measures to mitigate climate change.

Cooperating in preparing for adaptation to the impact of climate change.

Promoting education, training and public awareness related to climate change.

According to the UNFCCC, COP26 will work towards four goals:

Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.

Mobilise finance: To deliver on our first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020.

‘Finalise the Paris Rulebook’: Leaders will work together to frame a list of detailed rules that will help fulfil the Paris Agreement.

What could India do to reach its targets?

It is time for India to update its Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs. (NDCs detail the various efforts taken by each country to reduce the national emissions).

Sector by sector plans are needed to bring about development. We need to decarbonise the electricity, transport sector and start looking at carbon per passenger mile.

Aggressively figure out how to transition our coal sector. Time may have come for India to announce that we will not be building any more coal-fired power plants beyond what is in the pipeline. India also needs to ramp up the legal and institutional framework of climate change.

Global Hunger Index

(GS-II: Issues related to health)

In News:

Global Hunger Index 2021 has been released.

Performance of India:

India has slipped seven places to rank 101 among 116 countries. The level of hunger in India was ‘serious’ according to the report.

It ranked fourth among South Asian countries.

Only 15 other countries ranked below India on the Index.

Bangladesh (76), Nepal (76) and Pakistan (92) have fared much better than India on the index.

In 2020, India ranked at 94 among 107 countries on the Index.

India’s score on the Index in the recent two decades has declined by 10 points.

Globally, India ranked among the worst in ‘child wasting’ or ‘weight for height’. Its performance was worse than Djibouti and Somalia.

What Is The Global Hunger Index?

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is published annually as part of a partnership between Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s largest aid and humanitarian agency and Welthungerhilfe.

The first GHI report was published in 2006.

The GHI is intended to be “a tool designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels”.

How were countries ranked?

Four indicators were considered for calculating the global score out of 100, in order to decide the ranking:

  • Child wasting (percentage of children below five years of age who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition).
  • Child stunting (percentage of children below five years of age who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition).
  • Child mortality (the mortality rate of children under the age of five).
  • A three-step process based on standardisation of scores on each of the indicators and their aggregation yields a country’s GHI score on a 100-point ‘GHI Severity Scale’, where 0 is the best score and 100 is the worst.

Things that made the situation more worse:

Conflict, climate change and the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have exacerbated the food security situation across the globe including India.

But, why India Has Dismissed 2021 Global Hunger Index Ranking?

India came out strongly against the publishers of the annual Global Hunger Index over the questions of methodology and data sources amid a decline in the country’s ranking, which slid from 94 in 2020 to 101 in 2021.

Global Hunger Report 2021 has lowered the rank of India on the basis of FAO estimate.

Terming the FAO methodology “unscientific”, India said that “the scientific measurement of undernourishment would require measurement of weight and height, whereas the methodology involved here is based on Gallup poll based on pure telephonic estimate of the population”.

Also, India said that the “report completely disregards the government’s massive effort to ensure food security of the entire population during the Covid period, verifiable data on which are available”.