Ayushman Bharat to help fight against COVID-19

On March 18, 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has included Ayushman Bharat or the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana to fight against Corona Virus. So far India has recorded 168 confirmed cases of Corona Virus. OF these, India has cured 14 and three have so far died because of the virus.

Highlights

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has involved National Health Authority as well to fight against Corona Virus. The National Health Authority is the implementing agency of Ayushman Bharat. The scheme will help in identifying capacities of 19,840 empaneled hospitals to admit patients. Apart from this the ministry will also include non-profit hospitals to ramp up the facilities.

The plan is to identify these beds and set up an isolated ward for COVID-19 patients.

Other Measures

The Ministry has also included NITI Aayog and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to study hospital level preparedness. Also, database of ventilators and beds are to be collected.

 

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GM Crop: White Flies Resistant Cotton Field Trials begins

The National Botanical Research Institute developed pest resistant cotton variety. The cotton variety is to be field tested at the Center of Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.

Need

In 2015, the whiteflies devastated more than two-third cotton crops in Punjab. Of all the crops, cotton is the worst hit by whiteflies. Whiteflies are considered as the top 10 devastating pests in the world. They damage more than 2000 plant species.

Why not Bt Cotton?

When Bt cotton, a genetically modified crop already exists, why should scientists go for a new GM cotton crop? This is because, Bt cotton is resistant only to two pests and not to whiteflies.

The technology

In order to develop the pest resistant variety scientists have explored 250 plants. From these plants they have identified novel protein molecules that are harmful to whiteflies. Out of the 250 plants, the protein was found in Tectaria marcrodonta. This fern that causes toxicity in whiteflies is used as salad in Nepal.

How does it work?

When the fern enters the bloodstream of the whiteflies, it interferes with their life cycle. The insects start laying abnormal eggs resulting in extraordinary poor emergence of flies.

Whiteflies

Whiteflies feed on the underside of plant leaves. They are common in warm tropical climates. They are more prevalent in greenhouses. The world economic losses due to whiteflies are estimated to be more than 100s of millions of dollars annually.

The Whiteflies feed into the phloem of the plants and secrete toxic saliva into them. Phloem are rich in sugar. This is because they are responsible for transporting sugar produced in leaves to different parts of the plants.

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