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Child Wasting in India
Context :- UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), WHO (World Health Organization), World Bank Group have released a report titled- “Levels and trends in child malnutrition: Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates (JME)”, stating that in 2020, 18.7 % of Indian children were affected by Wasting caused by poor nutrient intake.
Joint Malnutrition Estimates (JME)
The JME group was created in 2011 to address the call for harmonized child Malnutrition estimates.
The inter-agency team releases annual estimates for child stunting, overweight, underweight, wasting and severe wasting.
Child malnutrition estimates for the indicators stunting, wasting, overweight and underweight describe the magnitude and patterns of under- and overnutrition.
Findings of the Report
Half of all children with wasting in the world live in India.
In 2022, an estimated 45 million children under five (6.8 %) were affected by wasting globally, of which 13.6 million were suffering from severe wasting.
More than three quarters of all children with severe wasting live in Asia and another 22 % live in Africa.
India had a stunting rate of 31.7 % in 2022, down from 41.6 % in 2012, a decade ago.
Some 148.1 million of children under age five worldwide, were affected by stunting in 2022.
Nearly all children affected lived in Asia (52 % of the global share) and Africa.
There are 37 million children under five who are overweight globally, an increase of nearly four million since 2000.
India had an overweight percentage of 2.8 % in 2022, compared to 2.2 % in 2012.
What are the Recommendations?
Children suffering from severe wasting require early detection and timely treatment and care to survive.
More intensive efforts are required if the world is to achieve the global target of reducing the number of children with stunting to 89 million by 2030.
Gaps in the available data in some regions make it challenging to accurately assess progress towards global targets. Regular data collection is therefore critical to monitor and analyze country, regional and global progress on child malnutrition moving forward.
What is Malnutrition?
Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.
The term malnutrition covers two broad groups of conditions.
One is ‘Undernutrition’—which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals).
The other is Overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer).
Childhood overweight occurs when children’s calorie intake from food and beverages exceeds their energy requirements.
Dengue: Prevention And Identification
GS Paper – 3
Scientific Innovations & Discoveries
GS Paper – 2
Dengue is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus (Genus Flavivirus), transmitted by several species of mosquito within the genus Aedes, principally Aedes aegypti.
This mosquito also transmits chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika infection.
There are 4 distinct, but closely related, serotypes (separate groups within a species of microorganisms that all share a similar characteristic) of the virus that cause dengue (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4).
Sudden high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, severe bone, joint, and muscle pain, etc.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Diagnosis of dengue infection is done with a blood test.
There is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection.
Status of Dengue:
Incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades, with a vast majority of cases under-reported, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO estimates 39 crore dengue virus infections per year, of which 9.6 crore show symptoms.
India registered over 1 lakh dengue cases in 2018 and over 1.5 lakh cases in 2019, according to the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP).
NVBDCP is the central nodal agency for prevention and control of six vector borne diseases i.e. Malaria, Dengue, Lymphatic Filariasis, Kala-azar, Japanese Encephalitis and Chikungunya in India. It works under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
Controlling Dengue Using Bacteria:
Recently researchers from the World Mosquito Program have used mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria to successfully control dengue in Indonesia.
The scientists infected some mosquitoes with Wolbachia and then released them in the city where they bred with local mosquitoes, until nearly all mosquitoes in the area were carrying Wolbachia bacteria. This is called the Population Replacement Strategy.
At the end of 27 months, the researchers found that the incidence of dengue was 77% lower in areas where Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes had been released, as compared to areas without such deployments
The dengue vaccine CYD-TDV or Dengvaxia was approved by the US Food & Drug Administration in 2019, the first dengue vaccine to get the regulatory nod in the US
National Policy of Rare Diseases
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare formulated launched NPRD in 2021 for the treatment of rare disease patients.
To increase focus on indigenous research and local production of medicines.
To lower the cost of treatment of rare diseases.
To screen and detect rare diseases early at early stages, which will in turn help in their prevention.
Key Provisions of the Policy:
Group 1: Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment.
Group 2: Those requiring long term or lifelong treatment.
Group 3: Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make optimal patient selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy.
Those who are suffering from rare diseases listed under Group 1 will have the financial support of up to Rs. 20 lakh under the umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi.
Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi provides for financial assistance to patients, living Below Poverty Line (BPL) and who are suffering from major life-threatening diseases, to receive medical treatment at any of the super specialty Government hospitals / institutes.
Beneficiaries for such financial assistance would not be limited to BPL families, but extended to about 40% of the population, who are eligible as per norms of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, for their treatment in Government tertiary hospitals only.
This includes voluntary crowdfunding treatment by setting up a digital platform for voluntary individual contribution and corporate donors to voluntarily contribute to the treatment cost of patients of rare diseases.
Centres of Excellence:
The policy aims to strengthen tertiary health care facilities for prevention and treatment of rare diseases through designating eight health facilities as ‘Centres of Excellence’ and these will also be provided one-time financial support of up to Rs. 5 crore for upgradation of diagnostics facilities.
A national hospital-based registry of rare diseases will be created to ensure adequate data and comprehensive definitions of such diseases are available for those interested in research and development.
What are Rare Diseases?
There are 6,000-8,000 classified rare diseases, but less than 5% have therapies available to treat them.
Example: Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSD), Pompe disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, haemophilia etc.
About 95% rare diseases have no approved treatment and less than 1 in 10 patients receive disease-specific treatment.
80% of these diseases have genetic origins.
These diseases have differing definitions in various countries and range from those that are prevalent in 1 in 10,000 of the population to 6 per 10,000.
However broadly, a ‘rare disease’ is defined as a health condition of low prevalence that affects a small number of people when compared with other prevalent diseases in the general population. Many cases of rare diseases may be serious, chronic and life-threatening.
India has close to 50-100 million people affected by rare diseases or disorders, the policy report said almost 80% of these rare condition patients are children and a leading cause for most of them not reaching adulthood is due to the high morbidity and mortality rates of these life-threatening diseases.
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)
Context :- The Central government has given the final go-ahead to India’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory or LIGO-India project.
What is LIGO?
LIGO stands for “Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory”.
It is an international network of laboratories that detect the ripples in spacetime produced by the movement of large celestial objects like stars and planets.
LIGO’s two observatories (both in US – Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana) consists of two widely-separated interferometers each – operated in unison to detect gravitational waves.
Such signals come from massive objects in the universe, such as black holes and neutron stars, and provide astronomers with an entirely new window to observe cosmic phenomena.
LIGO’s underlying mechanisms rely on the work of the famous physicist Albert Einstein.
Einstein in his Theory of Relativity predicted the existence of gravitational waves, analogous to electromagnetic waves, more than a century ago.
Einstein believed that such waves were too weak to ever be feasibly detected.
Beginning in the 1960s and 70s, the researchers-built prototype gravitational wave detectors using free-hanging mirrors that bounced a laser between them.
If a gravitational wave passed through the apparatus, it would wiggle the fabric of space-time and cause the mirrors to move ever so slightly.
This device, known as an Interferometer, is still the basic unit inside today’s gravitational wave detectors.
Though those early models didn’t have the sensitivity necessary to capture a gravitational wave signal, progress continued for several decades.
Introduction of LIGO:
In 1990, the US-based National Science Foundation approved the assembly of two LIGO detectors.
Construction of both detectors was completed in 1999 and the search for gravitational waves began a few years later.
For more than a decade, the detectors continued to come up empty, as physicists learned how to handle the highly sensitive instruments.
LIGO was completely redesigned for greater sensitivity between 2010 and 2014 and within days of the instruments being turned on in September 2015, the observatory began picking up the signature of its first gravitational waves.
LIGO had detected the collision of two black holes 29 and 36 times more massive than the sun, respectively, that occurred nearly 1.3 billion years ago.
What is LIGO-Virgo?
Apart from the two Interferometers based in the US, there is a third interferometer as well.
It is located in Santo Stefano, Italy and known as LIGO-Virgo.
Working in collaboration, the three facilities help confirm that any signal one facility picks up is a true gravitational wave detection and not random noise.
In January 2020, LIGO-Virgo detected a collision between a black hole and a neutron star.
KAGRA is a gravitational wave detector, located underground in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.
It is Asia’s first gravitational wave observatory.
About LIGO-India Project:
LIGO-India received the Central government’s in-principal approval in February 2016.
Since then, the project reached several milestones towards selecting and acquiring a site and building the observatory.
LIGO-India will be located in Hingoli district of Maharashtra, about 450 km east of Mumbai, and is scheduled to begin scientific runs from 2030.
The project will be built by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Science Foundation (NSF), USA.
Recently, the Union Cabinet gave the final approval and cleared the Rs 2,600-crore project.
Menstrual health is a public health issue
In a recent incident, a man from a city in Maharashtra allegedly killed his 12-year-old sister because he mistook period stains on her clothes as a sign of a sexual relationship. The incident is indicative of the extent of misinformation about periods in India’s urban locales.
In urban India, girls and women navigate a good part of their life in the public domain — a young working woman travels for hours by public transport, a teenager living in slums makes her way to school through narrow lanes, a sanitation worker begins her day before dawn cleaning the city, a vegetable vendor spends hours by her stall, and a nurse works busy 12-hour shifts. Their lives are very different, but they all navigate public spaces on a daily basis while dealing with a private aspect of their lives: their periods.
Periods are normal, but continue to be shrouded by shame, stigma and discrimination. Consequently, people face barriers in getting accurate information about periods and related products, using toilets, and seeking help when needed. The popular belief is that rural areas are hubs for ‘period poverty’ — backward, steeped in superstitions and unsafe practices — while urban areas are progressive, with access to modern period products and related necessities. However, the lived experiences of many urban dwellers show otherwise.
The sanitation worker may not know much about her body or periods. She uses waste cloth during her periods and often throws away the cloth after one use as she cannot wash, dry and reuse the cloth hygienically. The teenager wears sanitary pads for 10-12 hours at a stretch. Both may not have a toilet in their homes, and use a community toilet or go to a secluded spot early in the morning or late at night. The community toilets close by 11 p.m. and are often unclean. During summer, the water supply is limited, and bathing daily may not be possible. The working woman wears extra pads as she may not have the time or a clean or separate toilet at work to change.
Barriers to menstrual hygiene
India has been a front runner for action on menstrual hygiene — governments, NGOs and the private sector have all played an important role in spreading awareness and providing menstrual products. But the focus has often been on India’s rural population, and for good reasons. However, India’s large, rapidly growing urban population also calls out for attention.
Field insights and research show that certain groups of urban dwellers face a whole range of limitations that affects their menstrual health. The understanding of periods is still limited, especially among low-income groups. Period products may be more easily available in local kirana shops, chemists and online channels, but continue to be wrapped in paper or black plastic bags due to the associated shame. While many urban homes have toilets, residents of low-income slums, pavement dwellers, and some educational institutions and workplaces still do not have toilets, or have toilets that are not easily accessible, safe or clean and convenient.
Poor awareness, stigma and shame, limited access to products, lack of personal hygiene, poor toilet and water facilities, and difficulties in disposing pads can cause anxiety, discomfort, and infections, and long-term health problems. Menstrual waste management is a looming concern given the growing use of disposable sanitary pads. Routine garbage collection exists in many urban residential areas, but not in low-income areas. Where waste collection mechanisms exist, users don’t always segregate pads. Sanitation workers are then forced to sort through waste with their bare hands. This task undermines their health and dignity.
Doable actions can help improve menstrual health in urban India, especially for low-income groups and in public spaces. Awareness about periods is a key pillar of action, and must be continued, along with efforts to address harmful social and gender norms.
Menstrual products, both reusable and disposable, must be more available through various access channels — retail outlets, social enterprises, government schemes and NGOs. People should have the information and right to choose the products that they want to use. Citizen movements such as ‘Green the Red’ support urban populations to use menstrual cups and cloth pads, providing that much-needed exposure to reusable products.
Female-friendly community and public toilets are gaining popularity. ‘She Toilets’ in Telangana and Tamil Nadu and ‘Pink Toilets’ in Delhi provide safe, private, clean facilities with essential amenities needed to manage periods. Waste disposal and management remain a challenge. Yet some promising practices include the provision of dustbins and incinerators in female toilets, which promote waste segregation at source through initiatives like the ‘Red Dot Campaign’ and innovations like ‘PadCare Labs’.
Some prominent gaps remain unaddressed in urban spaces: reaching people living in unregistered slums, pavements, refugee camps and other vulnerable conditions in urban areas. Worksites, both formal and informal, need to cater to the menstrual needs of women who work. Support should continue for innovations in menstrual waste management that are safe, effective and scalable.
As we marked May 28 as Menstrual Hygiene Day, let us come together to shape the narrative on menstrual health as vital to personal health, public health, and human rights for all.
Palme d’Or Award
Palme d’Or translates to ‘The Golden Palm’.
The first Cannes festival was held in 1939, and then delayed until 1946 because of World War II.
The top prize in 1946, then called the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, was awarded to one film from each of the participating countries including India.
Indian film to win the award:
Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar is the only Indian film to win the award, itself never released in India.
Prestigious award in film industry:
The Palme d’Or is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry.
It is awarded to the film judged the best among those competing at the Cannes Film Festival.
Cannes Film Festival:
Cannes is one of the “big five” international film festivals, the other four being the Venice Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.
Nine directors have won the Palme twice, a circle known as “double Palmes”.
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