World Food Programme
The World Food Programme (WFP) has said that rapidly growing novel Coronavirus pandemic is so far having little impact on the global food supply chain, but that could change for the worse if major food importers remain anxious.
- The UN agency said global markets for basic cereals are well-supplied and prices are generally low.
- However, given the highly globalised nature of food production and supply, commodities need to move from the world's breadbaskets to where they are consumed and the novel Coronavirus-related containment measures are starting to make this more challenging.
- WFP Senior Spokesperson said, Disruptions are so far minimal; food supply is adequate, and markets are relatively stable, noting that global cereal stocks are at comfortable levels. The outlook for wheat and other staple crops is positive for the rest of the year.
- The WFP is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations.
- It is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
- It works to help people who cannot produce or obtain enough food for themselves and their families.
- It was established in 1961 after the 1960 Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Conference.
- Its headquarter is in Rome (Italy) and has more than 80 country offices around the world.
- It provides food assistance to an average of 80 million people in 75 countries each year.
- It is a member of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and part of its Executive Committee.
WTO Peace Clause
#GS2 #Economy #InternationalOrganisations #Agriculture
India has informed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the value of its rice production was USD 43.67 billion in 2018-19 and for that it provided subsidies worth USD 5 billion, which is in access of prescribed 10 per cent ceiling.
- India has used the peace clause of the WTO to provide excess support measures to rice farmers for marketing year 2018-19 in order to meet the domestic food security needs of its poor population.
- Under the Peace Clause, WTO members refrain from challenging any breach in prescribed subsidy ceiling given by a developing nation at the dispute settlement forum of the Geneva-based organisation.
- Subsidies over and above the prescribed ceiling are seen as trade distorting. The limit is fixed at 10 per cent of the value of food production for developing countries like India.
- India has informed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the value of its rice production was USD 43.67 billion in 2018-19 and for that it provided subsidies worth USD 5 billion, which is in access of prescribed 10 per cent ceiling.
- India's breach of commitment for rice, a traditional staple food crop under a provision of the Agreement on Agriculture arises from support provided in pursuance of public stockholding programmes for food security purposes, which were in existence as of the date of the Bali Ministerial Decision on Public Stockholding for Food Security Purposes,
- India is the first country to invoke peace clause.
India Admitted As Fifth Observer To Indian Ocean Commission
India was admitted to the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC: Commission de l'Océan Indien, COI) as an observer after it applied last month to be considered for observer status.
- The decision was taken at the meeting of the IOC Conference of ministers in Seychelles, making India the fifth observer. The other four observers China, Malta, European Union and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).
- The five-member grouping is important given India’s plans to expand in The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) which is strategically connects the Indian Ocean to the Southeastern coast of Africa and beyond.
- The member states are known to be erstwhile French colonies or partly British, partly French colonies. With France a member of IOC because of Reunion Islands, sources say they played a key role in ensuring India’s admission.
Indian Ocean Commission:
- It is an intergovernmental organization created in 1982.
- It was institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles.
- The COI is composed of five African Indian Ocean nations: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Réunion (an overseas region of France), and Seychelles.
- COI’s principal mission is to strengthen the ties of friendship between the countries and to be a platform of solidarity for the entire population of the African Indian Ocean region.
- The Commission has a Secretariat which is located in Mauritius and headed by a Secretary General.
- The Commission has four observers — China, EU, Malta and International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF).
Keeping tribals abreast of the latest during pandemic
A community radio station is creating awareness on COVID-19 among people living in remote areas
- An initiative of the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, ‘Janadhwani’ (voice of the people) – a community radio by the community for the community – as its tagline proclaims, is operating since the last few years with focus on development and tribal issues.
- But once the COVID-19 became a pandemic and the lockdown came into effect, Janadhwani with its live phone-in programmes was effective in spreading awareness in rural areas and the remote outback of H.D. Kote and Sargur that are not easily accessible.
- The signals of Janadhwani radio station has an aerial radius of 10 km. The community radio’s app ‘Janadhwani’ can be downloaded on Google Play.
- With a reach of nearly three lakh people spread over 200 villages, Janadhwani broadcasts for 14 hours daily of which 2 hours — 10 a.m. to noon — is dedicated to health issues, including COVID-19.
- It also provides radio consultation that are not prescriptive but general advisory and guidelines. On an average, there are at least 15 to 20 questions daily from the Adivasis and rural people, according to G.S. Kumar, CEO of SVYM.
Essential commodities are going to Kerala as usual
#GS2 #Governance #Acts
Karnataka has only barred entry of medical emergency cases.
- Notwithstanding the prohibition on entry of emergency medical cases from Kerala to Karnataka via National Highway 66, the State continues to allow the supply of essential commodities to Kerala, particularly its northern parts, through the Talapady check-post in Dakshina Kannada district.
- Kasaragod district and Malabar region of Kerala are dependent on Karnataka for essential commodities such as rice, cereals and pulses, including green gram.
- Coastal Karnataka used to get copra, coconut oil, rubber sheets and more from Kerala.
- The March 31 order issued by the State government under Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, barring the movement of patients from other States into Karnataka for treatment or diagnosis, in view of the severe shortage of healthcare facilities in the State, has not come in the way of the transport of essential commodities. The order, effective from April 1, will be in force till April 15.
- The Old Bunder wholesale sub-market in Mangaluru has been the main source of commodities for Kerala.
- Though there are restrictions on the number of people who can be present at a time in the market now, about 50% of the workforce, comprising loaders as well as merchants, is working to ensure supply of commodities within the district as well as outside.
- Meanwhile, the movement of petroleum products to Kerala too is going on unhindered. Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd., the lone petrochemical complex in Karnataka, caters to the requirements of north Kerala.
- Bullet tankers carrying LPG to bottling parts and fuel tankers transporting petrol and diesel in Kerala have been moving on a outine basis.
- Oil marketing companies get these products from MRPL.
Reverse migration exposes chinks in PDS
#GS3 #Pandemic #DisasterManagement
Even portability of ration cards has not got migrant workers to stay put in the city during lockdown
- Even portability of ration cards — which means ration can be bought from any of the nearly 20,000 shops in the State — could not stop migrants from travelling back to their villages in fear of job loss and starvation.
- For, according to the Food and Civil Supplies Department website, on an average, a mere 0.02% of 1.47 crore family ration cards have been used to get monthly ration from a shop that was not the closest one to the registered address in 2020. Ration card portability within the State came into effect in 2018.
- If one thought this system would ensure migrants remained where they were by assuring food security, the current situation has proved otherwise.
- This is at least partly because ration can be taken by a whole family from only one place. Which means that if one part of the family, say husband and wife, is in Bengaluru, leaving children and aged parents back in their village, ration can be taken at only one place.
- In such cases, the ration collection point is normally in the village. Portability works well only when the entire family is in one place.
- In hundreds of villages across Raichur, Yadgir and Bagalkot districts, from where a lot of migration happens to Bengaluru, the rest of the family remains behind. The number of families that have utilised the portability option since its launch is about five lakh.
- Portability has given freedom to cardholders. The department was in the process of popularising it when the COVID-19 scare arrived. This has shown us the need to further streamline it.
A ‘disinfection tunnel’ at APMC yard in Hubballi
Visitors have to walk via tunnel maintaining the prescribed distance
- As part of the efforts to check the spread of COVID-19, the Dharwad district administration has set up a ‘disinfection tunnel’ at the main entrance of the APMC yard at Amargol here.
- All visitors to the yard will have to walk through this tunnel maintaining prescribed distance. The sprayers overhead sprinkle protective substance on them.
- Workers and public are advised to raise their hands with their palms facing front while walking through the tunnel to ensure efficient disinfection.
- The first-of-its-kind initiative in the State has been set up in association with the Hubballi Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC), Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), and the local chapter of Young India.
- This special facility would help ensure the health protection of a large number of farmers, traders, workers and others.
In the time of the pandemic, classes go online and on air
- Teachers and students enter a new world of virtual lectures and worksheets as the lockdown brought about by the coronavirus shuts down schools and colleges
- e-learning poses a challenge to both teachers and students over technology and access, but it is keeping everyone busy with worksheets, video lectures and assignments.
- Some institutions are uploading lectures to YouTube, while the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan is deploying its Swayam Prabha portal, which has lectures on DTH and online, to help students.
- Andhra Pradesh is trying to tap Doordarshan to remove access barriers. Some institutions have adopted the Zoom app, others Google Classroom. Yet, the instructors are unable to say how effective they are, and not every student is tuning in.
The mystery of low German COVID-19 fatality rates
Early, aggressive testing, well-equipped ICUs, and faith in the government resulted in a remarkably low death count
- They call them corona taxis: Medics outfitted in protective gear, driving around the empty streets of Heidelberg, Germany, to check on patients who are at home, five or six days into being sick with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
- They take a blood test, looking for signs that a patient is about to go into a steep decline.
- They might suggest hospitalisation even to a patient who has only mild symptoms; the chances of surviving that decline are vastly improved by being in a hospital when it begins.
- Dr. Heidelberg’s corona taxis illustrate a level of engagement and a commitment of public resources that help explain one of the most intriguing puzzles of the pandemic:
- Why is Germany’s death rate so low? The virus and the resulting disease, COVID-19, have hit Germany with force: According to Johns Hopkins University, the country had more than 92,000 infections as of midday Saturday, more than any other country except the U.S., Italy and Spain.
- But with 1,295 deaths, Germany’s fatality rate stood at 1.4% compared with 12% in Italy; around 10% in Spain, France and Britain; 4% in China; and 2.5% in the United States.
- The average age of those infected is lower in Germany than in many other countries. Many of the early patients caught the virus in Austrian and Italian ski resorts and were relatively young and healthy, Dr. Kräusslich said.
- Another explanation is that Germany has been testing far more people than most nations. That means it catches more people with few or no symptoms, increasing the number of known cases but not the number of fatalities.
More ICU units
- But there are also significant medical factors, epidemiologists and virologists say, chief among them early and widespread testing and treatment, plenty of intensive care beds and a trusted government whose social distancing guidelines are widely observed.
- By now, Germany is conducting around 3,50,000 coronavirus tests a week, far more than any other European country. Early and widespread testing has allowed authorities to slow the spread of the pandemic by isolating known cases while they are infectious.
Further, all across Germany, hospitals have expanded their intensive care capacities. And they started from a high level. In January, Germany had some 28,000 intensive care beds equipped with ventilators, or 34 per 1,00,000 people. By comparison, that rate is 12 in Italy and 7 in the Netherlands. By now, there are 40,000 intensive care beds available in Germany.
Rapid antibody testing for hotspots first: ICMR
- Explaining about who to test and the scale of testing the Health Ministry has said that testing has to be focused and judiciously done, even when scaled-up.
- It added that contact-tracing is vital for this and is now greatly enabled by the AarogyaSetu App.
- RT-PCR test detects the virus and the antibody tests, which use blood, detect the body’s response to the virus. A positive results tells that the body was exposed to the virus.
- The antibody tests, even when used for screening, must be used with care, as with all tests, and interpreted by a professional. As of now, when so used, they can inform how groups of people have been exposed.
- Experts point out that individual-level interpretation also needs to be done by a professional, who can take a comprehensive assessment. When combined with nucleic acid tests, the antibody tests can give a complete status.
- Meanwhile a study on pooled sampling, said that pooled COVID-19 tests could help scale up testing and identify and contain disease hotspots. The study was conducted by Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy among other.
- Testing samples from multiple patients with a single PCR test (pooled sampling) has been used previously in the early stages of the HIV epidemic.
- We found that the use of the strategy could reduce the time, cost, and resources required whilst identifying infected people and estimating the infection rate. Allowing us to identify community clusters for targeted public health interventions.
Tests, treatment free under Ayushman Bharat
#GS2 #Health #Schemes
More than 50 crore beneficiaries can get free services in designated private hospitals across India.
- The Central government has decided to provide free testing and treatment of COVID-19 under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme.
- This, it notes, will help more than 50 crore Ayushman beneficiaries to get free testing and treatment in designated private hospitals across India.
- Confirming this, Indu Bhushan, CEO of Ayushman Bharat, said this would allow beneficiaries to get timely and standard treatment.
- The announcement comes after India registered an increase of 302 cases in the 12 hours to Sunday morning.
- The total number of positive cases has risen to 3,374 in India (including 3,030 active cases, 267 cured/discharged/migrated people and 77 deaths), according to the Health Ministry.
- These tests would be carried out as per the protocol set by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and by private labs approved/registered by the ICMR. Similarly, treatment of COVID-19 by private hospitals will be covered under AB-PMJAY.
- The objective of the decision was to increase the supply of testing and treatment facilities and increase access by roping in the private sector through AB-PMJAY scheme as per the ICMR guidelines.
- In this unprecedented crisis we have to very actively involve the private sector as a key partner and stakeholder in the fight against COVID-19.
- Making testing and treatment available under Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY will significantly expand our capacities by including private sector hospitals and labs and mitigate the adverse impact of this catastrophic illness on the poor.
- Information on symptoms, testing and treatment for the disease can be accessed from the website of the Health Ministry and by calling the national COVID-19 helpline 1075.