Daily Current Affairs | 22nd April 2020

States, UTs told to take steps to mitigate risks in waste disposal

Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed all States and Union Territories to take adequate steps to mitigate risks in disposal of bio-medical waste in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Key Points

  • Unauthorised Healthcare Facilities: The NGT raised concerns regarding unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste by unauthorised healthcare facilities. Only 1.1 lakh out of 2.7 lakh healthcare facilities are authorised under the Bio-medical Waste Management Rules, 2016 so far.
    • The NGT asked the State Pollution Control Boards and pollution control committees to make efforts to bridge this gap to mitigate the risk in terms of unscientific disposal of bio-medical waste.
  • Earlier, the Karnataka High Court has also directed the Karnataka Government to take special measures to protect sanitation workers while they collect waste from houses where persons subjected to home quarantine reside.
  • The court directed that:
    • Waste from households under quarantine should be put in yellow non-chlorinated plastic bags, and be treated as biomedical waste.
    • Waste should be picked up from quarantine homes in a separate vehicle.
    • Sanitation workers and vehicle drivers should be provided with the necessary safety gear, such as gloves, goggles and gowns.
  • Once collected, these waste must be disposed of, as per the Biomedical Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change notified the Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules in 2016.
    • The new set of Rules replaced the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998.

Bio-Medical Waste Management Rules, 2016

  • Definition: Biomedical waste was defined as human and animal anatomical waste, treatment apparatus like needles, syringes and other materials used in health care facilities in the process of treatment and research.
    • This waste is generated during diagnosis, treatment or immunisation in hospitals, nursing homes, pathological laboratories, blood bank, etc.
  • Objective: The objective of the rules is to properly manage the per day bio-medical waste from healthcare facilities (HCFs) across the country.
  • Ambit: The ambit of the rules has been expanded to include vaccination camps, blood donation camps, surgical camps or any other healthcare activity.
  • Phase out: Use of chlorinated plastic bags, gloves and blood bags to be phased out within two years from March 2016.
  • Pre-treatment: Pre-treatment of the laboratory waste, microbiological waste, blood samples and blood bags through disinfection or sterilisation on-site in the manner prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) or by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).
  • Training: All health care workers to be provided training and immunization regularly.
  • Bar-code: A Bar-Code System for bags or containers containing bio-medical waste for disposal will be established.
  • Categorisation: Bio-medical waste has been classified into 4 categories instead of the earlier 10 categories to improve the segregation of waste at source.
  • Stringent standards for pollutants: The rules prescribe more stringent standards for incinerators to reduce the emission of pollutants in the environment.
  • Land: The State Government provides the land for setting up common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facilities.
  • No establishment of on-site treatment and disposal facility, if a service of `common bio-medical waste treatment facility is available at a distance of seventy-five kilometer.
  • Operators of a common bio-medical waste treatment and disposal facility have to ensure the timely collection of bio-medical waste from the HCFs and assist the HCFs in conduct of training.

National Green Tribunal

  • NGT was established in the year 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010.
  • It was established for
    • Effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
    • Enforcement of any legal right relating to the environment.
    • Giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
  • It is a specialized body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues.
  • The Tribunal is guided by principles of natural justice.

CSIR to test its new sepsis drug for severe patients of Covid-19

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has decided to test its new drug against Sepsis, named Sepsivac to treat critical patients of Covid-19.

  • The drug will be tested in 50 Covid-19 patients at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi and Bhopal, and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.
  • New Drug Against Sepsis
    • The new drug has recently been approved for marketing in India and would be available commercially as Sepsivac® from Ahmedabad-based Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited.
    • The pharmaceutical company was supported by CSIR laboratories led by Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Jammu in development of this drug, which has also been found effective for leprosy patients.
  • Gram Negative Sepsis and Covid-19
    • Sepsis is a serious life-threatening condition caused when the body’s response to any kind of infection goes out of balance, triggering changes that can lead to multi-organ failure.
    • Gram negative bacteremia (presence of bacteria in the bloodstream) in the critically ill patient is synonymous with gram negative sepsis.
      • Gram-negative bacteria have built-in abilities to find new ways to be resistant and can pass along genetic materials that allow other bacteria to become drug-resistant as well.
    • According to scientists, there are some clinical similarities between patients suffering from gram-negative Sepsis and Covid-19.
    • A Covid-19 infection leads to a cytokine storm, quite similar to the one seen in Sepsis, when there is a heightened immune response and over production of immune cells because of which the body starts attacking its own cells. There is inflammation and it reduces the lung’s capacity to absorb oxygen.
  • Effectiveness of Sepsivac
    • Previous randomised trials in sepsis patients showed 11% absolute reduction and 55.5% relative reduction in mortality. Sepsivac reduces the days on ventilator, in ICU and hospital and incidence of secondary infection.
    • The drug uses the Mycobacterium w (formally known as mycobacterium indicus pranii) as it produces a different immune-system response.
      • The United States and Australia are also going to start testing the efficacy of the BCG, or tuberculosis vaccine, that also employs a different strain of mycobacterium, in health care workers at the frontline of treating Covid-19 patients.
  • CSIR’s Plan for Mycobacterium
    • CSIR has also planned to evaluate Mw for faster recovery of hospitalised Covid-19 infected patients and minimise the spread of disease through them as well for providing preventive treatment (prophylaxis) to persons coming in contact with Covid-19 infected patients like family members and health care workers.

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

  • CSIR was established by the Government of India in September 1942 as an autonomous body.
  • It is known for its cutting edge R&D knowledge base in diverse S&T areas.
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been ranked first in the Nature Ranking Index-2020.
    • The Nature Index provides a close to real-time proxy of high-quality research output and collaboration at the institutional, national and regional level.

Earth Day 2020

  • Every year, April 22 is celebrated as Earth Day to raise public awareness about the environment and inspire people to save and protect it.
  • The year 2020 marks 50 years since the start of this modern environmental movement in 1970.
  • The theme of Earth Day 2020 is “Climate Action”.
  • It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 193 countries each year.
  • The idea of commemorating such a day was propounded by Gaylord Nelson, an American environmentalist and politician.
  • The Earth Day also recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration (Earth Summit), to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.
  • The Paris Agreement was also opened for signature on 22 April 2016 – Earth Day – at UN Headquarters in New York.
  • World Earth Day encourages people to take more steps for the protection of nature and to thank mother earth for the rich environment.

World Earth day 2020: Digital Celebration

  • Google marked the 50th anniversary of the Earth Day with a special interactive doodle dedicated to one of the smallest and most critical organisms – the bees.
  • As people have to stay inside their homes amid Covid-19 lockdown, World Earth Day 2020 is all set to be celebrated digitally. People who plan on participating can join ’24 hours of action’.
  • One can also take 22 challenges that include measuring your carbon footprint, doing a plastic audit, skype a scientist, work for the earth, zero waste for one day and consume 1 meal per day this week on a plant-based diet.

Earth Day Network

  • Earth Day Network is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.
  • EDN main office is located in Washington DC, USA.

Note

  • 22 March: World Water Day
  • 22 April: Earth Day
  • 22 May : World Biodiversity Day
  • Recently the Earth Hour was observed on 28th March, 2020. It encourages people to switch off the lights from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm as per their local time.
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