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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 September 2018
Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Draft rules for E Pharmacies
What to study?
- For Prelims: Highlights of the Draft.
- For Mains: Need for regulation and significance of e pharmacies.
Context: Ministry of health and family welfare has issued a draft notification recently on the sale of drugs by E-Pharmacies. The notification is about the amendment of Drugs and Cosmetics Rules amendment to enable registration of the e pharmacies and monitoring of their functioning.
Significance of these rules:
- With this, Rs 3000 crore online pharma business will be regularised from the day of final notification.
- These rules have been proposed to ensure accessibility and availability of drugs to the people across India.
- After the rules are finalised, people will be able to get genuine drugs through these online pharmacies.
Highlights of the Draft:
- All the e-pharmacies have to be registered compulsorily with the Central Drugs Standard control organisation.
- Psychotropic substances, habit-forming medicines like cough syrup and sleeping pills, schedule x drugs will not be sold online.
- Apart from registration, the e pharmacies have to obtain a license from the State government to sell the medicines online.
- The application of registration of e-pharmacy will have to be accompanied by a sum of Rs 50,000 while asserting that an e-pharmacy registration holder will have to comply with provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000).
- The details of patient shall be kept confidential and shall not be disclosed to any person other than the central government or the state government concerned, as the case may be.
- The supply of any drug shall be made against a cash or credit memo generated through the e-pharmacy portal and such memos shall be maintained by the e-pharmacy registration holder as record.
- Both state and central drug authorities will be monitoring the data of sales and transactions of e pharmacies. Any violation of rules the registration of e-pharmacies will be suspended, and it can be cancelled too.
- The premises from which e-pharmacy is operated regular inspections will be conducted every two years by the central licencing authority.
Significance of the sector:
- Patients can order medicines by uploading the prescription, and they will be delivered at home by the e pharmacies. As there are no distribution costs involved and the e pharmacies procured directly from the manufacturers, the price may come down by 20 to 30% han Maximum Retail Price.
- All the transaction will be done electronically which will encourage digital payments, and these bills can be tracked online for any misuse.
- Each E pharmacy shall appoint pharmacists with customer care which will create the additional jobs in addition to the existing offline pharmacists that are already giving jobs to the pharmacists.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Regional offices of WHO- significance, need and objectives.
Context: 71st Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia was recently held.
About Regional Committee for South-East Asia:
- The Regional Committee for South-East Asia is the World Health Organization’s
- governing body in the South-East Asia Region, with representatives from all 11
- Member States of the Region.
- It meets in September every year to review progress in health development in the Region, formulate resolutions on health issues for the Member States, as well as to consider the regional implications of World Health Assembly resolutions, among others.
World Health Organization in South-East Asia:
- The South-East Asia Region of the World Health Organization, established in 1948, was the first of its six regions.
- Home to a quarter of the world population, WHO SEARO provides leadership on health matters, articulates evidence-based policy options, provides technical support to countries and monitors health trends.
WHO South-East Asia Countries:
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
- Sri Lanka.
Facts for Prelims:
WHO by a resolution, has delineated six geographic areas for regional organizations as follows:
- Eastern Mediterranean.
- Western Pacific.
- South-East Asia.
- Africa (South of the Sahara).
- The Americas.
Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Spain offers referendum on greater Catalan autonomy
What to study?
- For Prelims: Geographical location of Spain and Catalonia.
- For Mains: Controversy and issues surrounding the demand for autonomy.
Context: Spain’s prime minister has proposed a referendum on whether Catalonia should be given greater autonomy, in a bid to dampen tensions between Madrid and Barcelona.
- While stopping short of offering the wealthy region a vote on full independence, this proposal will still be seen as an olive branch for many in Catalonia who simply want to see more devolved regional powers.
This comes in the wake of a political crisis last year when the Catalan government attempted a unilateral declaration of independence.
What’s the issue?
Catalonia, which has its own distinct language, was granted autonomy under Spain’s 1978 Constitution adopted three years after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco.
- In 2006, a statute granting even greater powers to the northwestern region, boosting its financial clout, was approved by the Spanish and Catalan parliaments. And in a referendum at the time, over 73% of voters in Catalonia approved it.
- But in 2010 Spain’s Constitutional Court struck down several articles of the charter, among them attempts to place the distinctive Catalan language above Spanish in the region and a clause describing the region as a “nation”. The ruling sparked a rise in support for independence in Catalonia, which is home to some 7.5 million people and accounts for about one-fifth of the Spanish economy.
Where is Catalonia?
Catalonia is an autonomous community of Spain in the north-east end of the Iberian Peninsula, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy. It has four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, which is the second most populated city in Spain.
How would a secession affect the Spanish economy?
The Catalan region has long been the industrial heartland of Spain, with textile and shipbuilding, and more recently, finance, services, and technology. Barcelona has a thriving start-up culture, and plays host to the annual Mobile World Congress, where the bleeding edge of technology is on display.
- Catalonia is one of the wealthiest regions of Spain. It accounts for 20.07% of the Spanish GDP. Secession would therefore cost Spain almost a fifth of its economic output, and trigger a row on how to carve up the €836 billion of national debt.
- If Catalonia were to secede from Spain, it would have a GDP of $314 billion, according to calculations by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). That would make its economy larger than Singapore and South Africa, and on a par with Israel. Its GDP per capita would be $35,000, which would make the average citizen of the Catalonian state wealthier than his counterparts from South Korea or Italy.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and significance of the scheme.
Context: The Reserve Bank of India has tightened the banking ombudsman scheme with the objective to strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism for customers.
- The banking regulator has asked all commercial banks having 10 or more banking outlets to have an independent internal ombudsman (IO) to review customer complaints that are either partly or fully rejected by the banks.
- The IO shall, inter alia, examine customer complaints which are in the nature of deficiency in service on the part of the bank, that are partly or wholly rejected by the bank.
- As banks should internally escalate complaints that are not fully redressed to their respective IOs before conveying the final decision to the complainant, customers need not approach the IO directly.
Internal Ombudsman Scheme:
- The Internal Ombudsman Scheme of 2018 mandates banks to grant a fixed term of three to five years, which cannot be renewed, to the IO.
- The IO can be removed only with prior approval from RBI. The remuneration would have to be decided by the customer sub-committee of the board and not by any individual.
- The Ombudsman Scheme of 2018 covers appointment/tenure, roles and responsibilities, procedural guidelines and oversight mechanism for the IO, among others.
- The implementation of IO Scheme 2018 will be monitored by the bank’s internal audit mechanism apart from regulatory oversight by RBI.
Who is a Banking Ombudsman?
- Banking ombudsman is a quasi judicial authority, created to resolve customer complaints against banks relating to certain services provided by them.
- The Ombudsman is a senior official, who has been appointed by the Reserve Bank of India to address grievances and complaints from customers, pertaining deficiencies in banking services.
- It covers all kinds of banks including public sector banks, Private banks, Rural banks as well as co-operative banks.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in space.
EMIRATES MARS MISSION – HOPE PROBE
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Highlights, objectives and significance of the scheme.
Context: UAE has started its preparations for the upcoming Mars Mission named- HOPE.
In July 2014, the UAE leadership announced the launch of the Emirates Mars Mission project by the President of the UAE. Subsequently, the President issued a decree establishing the UAE Space Agency.
- The probe will be built by an Emirati team of engineers and experts and will be sent on a scientific voyage of discovery to the Red Planet.
- This will mark the Arab world’s entry into the era of space exploration and place the UAE among the major scientific countries that have begun programmes to explore Mars.
- The probe will be sent to explore the Red Planet by 2020. Following a journey of several months, the probe is expected to enter the Red Planet’s orbit in 2021, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the formation of the UAE.
Scientific Objectives of the Probe Voyage:
- The Emirates Mars Mission project will answer scientific questions that have long puzzled scientists. These are questions about the Red Planet, which scientists have not been able to explain before because of the lack of data and information.
- The project will cover all aspects that have not been previously covered, whether scientific or knowledge-based, and it will work on drawing a clear and comprehensive picture of the Martian climate and the causes of the corrosion of its surface that has made it impossible for water to exist on the planet.
- The project will also provide insights about the weather on the Red Planet. It will observe weather phenomena such as dust storms and changes in temperature and how the atmosphere interacts with topography, from the highest volcano peaks to ice sheets to the vast deserts and the deepest canyons.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Drug-resistant superbug spreading
What to study?
- For Prelims: What are superbugs, brief overview of known superbugs.
- For Mains: MDR- causes, concerns and solutions.
Context: Australian scientists have warned that Staphylococcus epidermidis, a superbug resistant to all known antibiotics that can cause “severe” infections or even death is spreading undetected through hospital wards across the world.
- Researchers discovered three variants of the multidrug-resistant bug in samples from 10 countries, including strains in Europe that cannot be reliably tamed by any drug currently on the market.
The bacteria, known as Staphylococcus epidermidis, is related to the better-known and more deadly MRSA superbug.
Where it is found? It’s found naturally on human skin and most commonly infects the elderly or patients who have had prosthetic materials implanted, such as catheters and joint replacements.
Who is more vulnerable? It can be deadly, but it’s usually in patients who already are very sick in hospital. it can be quite hard to eradicate and the infections can be severe.
Concerns: Some strains of the bug can make a small change in DNA that can lead to resistance to two of the most common antibiotics.
What is a superbug?
A superbug, also called multiresistant, is a bacterium that carries several resistance genes. These are resistant to multiple antibiotics and are able to survive even after exposure to one or more antibiotics.
What causes them to mutate like that?
Like any living organism, bacteria can mutate as they multiply. Also like any living organism, bacteria have a strong evolutionary drive to survive. So, over time, a select few will mutate in particular ways that make them resistant to antibiotics. Then, when antibiotics are introduced, only the bacteria that can resist that treatment can survive to multiply further, proliferating the line of drug-resistant bugs.
Why is Antibiotic Resistance a Big Deal?
The discovery of antibiotics less than a century ago was a turning point in public health that has saved countless lives. Although antibiotic resistance develops naturally with normal bacterial mutation, humans are speeding it up by using antibiotics improperly. According to a research, now, 2 million people a year in the US develop antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 of them die of those infections.
Why is the medical community worried?
Basically, superbugs are becoming more powerful and widespread than ever. Medical experts are afraid that we’re one step away from deadly, untreatable infections, since the mcr-1 E.coli is resistant to that last-resort antibiotic Colistin. Antibiotic-resistance is passed relatively easily from one bacteria to the next, since it is transmitted by way of loose genetic material that most bacteria have in common.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is afraid of a post-antibiotic world, where loads of bacteria are superbugs. Already, infections like tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and pneumonia are becoming harder to treat with typical antibiotics.
What Can We Do?
First step would be to limit antibiotic use. If a patient has a virus, for instance, an antibiotic won’t work, so doctors shouldn’t prescribe antibiotics even if the patient insists. And when patients do need antibiotics, it’s important to make sure they take the full course to kill off every last infection-causing germ. Otherwise the strong survive, mutate, and spread. As a society, curbing antibiotic use in healthy animals used in human food production is another important step.
According to few recent studies, nanotechnology holds the key to stopping antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the deadly infections they cause. Scientists have developed light-activated nanoparticles — each roughly 20,000 times smaller than the thickness of a single human hair and have shown in lab tests that these “quantum dots” are more than 90% effective at wiping out antibiotic-resistant germs like Salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus. With the emergence of this Colistin-resistant E.coli, the medical community is going to be working harder and faster to contain superbugs and develop new treatments for infections.
The global community needs to urgently address the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in an actionable manner, and fast-track research on the next generation of drugs.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Maralal Camel Derby:
What is it? The Maralal Camel Derby is an annual event, held midyear just outside of Maralal town. This is Kenya’s best known and most prestigious camel race, attracting both local and international competitors. The event is a major draw for spectators as well as racers.
Why in News? The 2018 edition of this race was held recently in Kenya.
France bans smartphone use in schools:
Context: France has banned the use of smartphones in schools.
- Lawmakers decided that students under the age of 15 must leave their cellphones at home, or at least have them turned off during the school day. French high schools will be allowed to decide whether they implement the ban in their classrooms.
- The measure prohibits the use of tablets, computers, and other internet-connected devices as well. There are exceptions in place for students with disabilities and for the educational use of devices in the classroom and in extra-curricular activities.
- Proponents say the law will reduce distraction in the classroom, combat bullying, and encourage children to be more physically active during recess.
- The ban will limit the spread of violent and pornographic content among children.
Fourth International Ayurveda Congress (IAvC):
Context: Fourth IAvC was recently held in Leiden, Netherlands.
It was jointly organized by International Maharishi Ayurveda Foundation, Netherlands; All India Ayurvedic Congress, New Delhi and International Academy of Ayurveda, Pune in association with Indian Embassy in Netherlands.
Focus: The congress focused on promotion and propagation of Ayurveda in Netherlands and its neighboring countries of Europe.
Mauritius remains top source of FDI:
As per the latest data by RBI, Mauritius was the top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India in 2017-18 followed by Singapore. The total FDI in FY 18 stood at $37.36 billion in financial year which was marginal rise over $36.31 billion recorded in the previous fiscal 2016-17.
Exercise Rapid Trident:
What is it? Rapid Trident logoRapid Trident is an annual, multinational exercise that serves as the validation for Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence unit.
Context: Exercise Rapid Trident 2018 is being held in Ukraine, involving approximately 2,270 personnel from 14 nations.