According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Entamoeba histolytica is the third-leading cause of morbidity and mortality due to parasitic disease in humans. It causes amoebiasis or amoebic dysentery, which is highly prevalent in developing countries.
How does it infect human body?
- This protozoan is anaerobic or micro-aerophilic in nature such that it cannot survive high concentrations of oxygen.
- However, during infection, it faces a high surge of oxygen inside the human body.
- The organism synthesises large amounts of cysteine to counter oxidative stress.
- This pathogen deploys cysteine as one of the essential molecules in its defence mechanism against high oxygen levels. Entamoeba expresses two crucial enzymes for synthesising cysteine.
- Researchers from JNU has characterised and determined the molecular structures of both these crucial enzymes.
- They have also successfully screened for potent inhibitors for one of the enzymes, O-acetyl L-serine sulfhydrylase (OASS).
- Some of these inhibitors can check the growth of this organism with high efficacy.
- Cysteine biosynthesis is crucial for the survival of E. histolytica and may be similar protozoan parasites. These can be targeted by inhibiting their pathways, which the researchers have successfully done. The identified molecules can be lead to the development of drug molecules
About amoebiasis –
- Amoebiasis is a parasitic infection of the colon with the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica.
- Amoebiasis infection is most common in tropical areas with untreated water. It spreads through drinking or eating uncooked food, such as fruit, that may have been washed in contaminated local water.
- If symptoms occur, they may be mild and include cramping and diarrhoea. Bloody stools, fever and, rarely, liver abscess may occur in severe cases.
- Treatment includes antibiotics.
Aarogyapath is a CSIR-led National Healthcare Supply Chain Portal that aims to provide real-time availability of critical healthcare supplies has been launched recently.
- During the present national health emergency arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, where in there is severe disruption in supply chain, the ability to produce and deliver the critical items may be compromised due to a variety of reasons.
- The information platform named AarogyaPath with a vision of “providing a path which leads one on a journey towards Aarogya (healthy life)” was developed to address these challenges.
- AarogyaPath would serve manufacturers, suppliers and customers.
- This integrated public platform that provides single-point availability of key healthcare goods can be helpful to customers in tackling a number of routinely experienced issues. These issues include dependence on limited suppliers, time-consuming processes to identify good quality products, limited access to suppliers who can supply standardised products at reasonable prices within desired timelines, lack of awareness about the latest product launches, etc.
- It also helps manufacturers and suppliers to reach a wide network of customers efficiently, overcoming gaps in connectivity between them and potential demand centres like nearby pathological laboratories, medical stores, hospitals, etc.
- It will also create opportunities for business expansion due to an expanded slate of buyers and visibility of new requirements for products. Over time, analytics from this platform is expected to generate early signals to manufacturers on over capacity as well as on looming shortages. This would help to reduce wastage of resources due to inefficient forecasting and excess manufacturing, generate awareness about the demand for new technologies.
New Map of Nepal
The Lower House of Nepal’s Parliament has recently voted unanimously for the Second Constitution Amendment Bill, which guarantees legal status for the new political map of the country that includes part of Indian territory in Uttarakhand.
What is the dispute?
- The territorial dispute stems from the fact that Nepal claims the land to the east of river Kali, which forms the country’s western border.
- As per Kathmandu’s understanding, the river originates from Limpiyadhura in the higher Himalayas, giving it access to a triangular-shaped land defined by Limpiyadhura-Lipulekh and Kalapani.
- India opposes the notion and says the origin of the river is much further down, which reduces Nepal’s territorial demand.
What happens now?
The territorial dispute of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh cannot be resolved at talks led by Foreign Secretaries or senior envoys as the disputed territories are now part of Nepal’s constitution and public imagination.
Response from India –
The Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs has said that “the artificial enlargement of claims is not based on historical fact or evidence and is not tenable. It is also violative of our current understanding to hold talks on outstanding boundary issues.”
- The British used the Lipu Lekh pass for trade with Tibet and China. The Survey of India maps since the 1870s showed the area of Lipu Lekh down to Kalapani as part of British India. Both the Rana rulers of Nepal and the Nepalese Kings accepted the boundary and did not raise any objection with the government of India after India’s Independence.
- As a reward for the military help rendered by Jung Bahadur Rana in quelling the 1857 uprising, the areas of Nepalgunj and Kapilvastu were restituted to Nepal soon thereafter. The British did not return any part of Garhwal or Kumaon, including the Kalapani area, to Nepal.
- India did not exist in 1816 when the Treaty of Sugauli was concluded. And India’s present borders, not just with Nepal, but with many of its other neighbours, were drawn by the erstwhile British regime. India inherited the boundaries of British India. It cannot now unravel the historic past.
About ‘Treaty of Sugauli’ –
- Before the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli, the Nepalese kingdom stretched from the Sutlej river in the west to the Teesta river in the East. Nepal lost the Anglo-Nepalese War and the resulting Treaty limited Nepal to its present territories.
- The Sugauli Treaty stated that “[t]he Rajah of Nipal [Nepal] hereby cedes to the Honourable [the] East India Company in perpetuity all the under-mentioned territories”, including “the whole of the lowlands between the Rivers Kali and Rapti.”
- It elaborated further that “[t]he Rajah of Nipal [Nepal] renounces for himself, his heirs, and successors, all claim to or connection with the countries lying to the west of the River Kali and engages never to have any concern with those countries or the inhabitants there of.”
- The present controversy has arisen since the Nepalese contest that the tributary that joins the Mahakali river at Kalapani is not the Kali river. Nepal now contends that the Kali river lies further west to the Lipu Lekh pass.
The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal has given one month to the Kerala Forest Department for submitting its report on the steps taken to prevent forest fires and implement the National Action Plan on Forest Fire in the State.
About National Action Plan on Forest Fire –
- National Action Plan on Forest Fires (NAPFF) was launched in 2018 to minimise forest fires by informing, enabling and empowering forest fringe communities and incentivising them to work with the State Forest Departments.
- The plan also intends to substantially reduce the vulnerability of forests across diverse forest ecosystems in the country against fire hazards.
- It also aims to enhance capabilities of forest personnel and institutions in fighting fires and swift recovery subsequent to fire incidents.
Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme –
- The Forest Fire Prevention and Management Scheme (FPM) is the only centrally funded program specifically dedicated to assist the states in dealing with forest fires.
- The FPM replaced the Intensification of Forest Management Scheme (IFMS) in 2017. By revamping the IFMS, the FPM has increased the amount dedicated for forest fire work.
- Funds allocated under the FPM are according to a centre-state cost-sharing formula, with a 90:10 ratio of central to state funding in the Northeast and Western Himalayan regions and a 60:40 ratio for all other states.
- It also provides the states to have the flexibility to direct a portion of the National Afforestation Programme (NAP) and Mission for Green India (GIM) funding toward forest fire work.
What happens when a ‘forest fire’ occurs?
- When a fire is detected by NASA’s MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) and VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) satellites, the Forest Survey of India (FSI) analyses the data by overlaying the digitised boundaries of forest areas to pinpoint the location to the exact forest compartment.
- The FSI relays news of the fire to the concerned State, so that the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in charge of the forest where the fire is raging is informed.
- A few years ago, the time lapse between spotting the fire and the news reaching the DFO was five to six hours, but this has been reduced to about two hours recently.
- The frequency of the two satellites orbiting the earth has also been increased from twice daily to once in three hours.
What should be our approach?
There are various approaches to fighting forest fires.
- The first is what may be called technological, where helicopters or ground-based personnel spray fire retardant chemicals, or pump water to fight the blaze. These are expensive methods and make sense when one is protecting a human community, but are usually not practised in India.
- The second is to contain the fire in compartments bordered by natural barriers such as streams, roads, ridges, and fire lines along hillsides or across plains. A fire line is a line through a forest which has been cleared of all vegetation. The width depends on the type of forest being protected. Once the blaze has burnt out all combustibles in the affected compartment, it fizzles out and the neighbouring compartments are saved.
- The third is to set a counter fire, so that when a fire is unapproachable for humans, a line is cleared of combustibles and manned. One waits until the wildfire is near enough to be sucking oxygen towards it, and then all the people manning the line set fire to the line simultaneously. The counter fire rushes towards the wildfire, leaving a stretch of burnt ground. As soon as the two fires meet, the blaze is extinguished.
- The fourth approach, which is the most practical and most widely used, is to have enough people with leafy green boughs to beat the fire out. This is practised in combination with fire lines and counter fires.
- Lastly, while communication and response time have been cut down, the actual numbers of Forest Department personnel that are sent to put out fires are woefully inadequate. We need to vastly increase the number of firefighters as well as equip them properly to mitigate the damage. Seasonal labour could be contracted during the fire season. With adequate training, they would serve to fill gaps along the line. Local villagers would be the best resource.
Studying the geographic distribution and evolution of the chikungunya virus over the period from 2005-2018, a team from ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune, has noted India as an endemic reservoir for the virus with persistent global transmissions from the country.
What does the study say?
- The paper published recently in Infection, Genetics and Evolution adds that “dispersal of the strains from India was noted to neighbouring and distant countries” such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and China.
- The Indian Ocean lineage is a subgroup within the East Central South African genotype. It was responsible for the resurgence in the epidemic on La Reunion island and other neighbouring islands in the Indian Ocean and in the Indian sub-continent during 2004-2005.
About Chikungunya –
- Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
- Joint pain is often debilitating and can vary in duration.
- The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue and zika, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where they are common. The virus is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected female mosquitoes. Most commonly, the mosquitoes involved are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, two species which can also transmit other mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue.
- There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.
- The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya.
- The disease mostly occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. However a major outbreak in 2015 affected several countries of the Region of the Americas.
Recently, US President Donald Trump gave in to pressure and announced the postponement of his upcoming election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma by a day so that it does not clash with Juneteenth, the day that celebrates the end of slavery in the US.
What is ‘Juneteenth Day’?
- Juneteenth is the portmanteau of June and nineteenth and while it is not a federal holiday, it is recognised as a state holiday in over 45 US states.
- The day is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the US and is observed on June 19. It is also known as Emancipation Day or Juneteenth Independence Day.
- On January 1, 1863, then-president Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that “all persons held as slaves” within the states in rebellion “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
- Even so, over 2.5 years after Lincoln’s proclamation, many slave owners continued to hold their slaves captive by hiding this information from them and holding them slaves for one more harvest season, as per the Congressional Research Service (CRS).