Assam Current Affairs - 2019
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According to recent report tabled in the Lok Sabha, West Bengal has the highest number of arsenic-affected people in the country. State’s 83 blocks in eight districts have ground water affected by arsenic contamination.
Despite the State government’s efforts to curb the Arsenic menace, there is still a lot to be done. So far, state government was able to provide safe drinking water to 52% of the arsenic-affected areas in Bengal.
- The total number of arsenic-affected people in the country is about 1.48 crore (as of March 2017).
- West Bengal has topped the list with more than 1.04 crore arsenic-affected persons.
- Bihar is second with 16.88 lakh persons, with Assam is third with 14.48 lakh victims.
- According to the WHO’s guidelines for drinking water quality (2011), the permissible limit of Arsenic in groundwater is .01 m/ litre.
- However, in India the permissible limit in drinking water was only recently been revised from .05 mg/litre to .01 mg/litre.
- West Bengal government recently had initiated a project to provide safe drinking water to more than six lakh people in the arsenic-affected blocks.
- However, there is slow progress in setting up water treatment plants since the technology for removal of arsenic is new and expensive.
About Arsenic Contamination
- Arsenic is a natural component in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form.
- Contaminated water used for drinking, irrigation of food crops and food preparation poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic.
- Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning. It can cause cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes.
- The most important action in affected communities is the prevention of further exposure to arsenic by providing them of a safe water supply.
- It is a high-profile problem in the Ganges Delta, due to the use of deep tubewells for water supply. The groundwater in these tubewells have high concentrations of arsenic in deeper levels .
The Union Government has announced the expansion of rotavirus vaccine in five additional states under Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). They are Assam, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
The announcement comes after 38 lakh children were vaccinated when the vaccine was first introduced in four states – Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
- The rotavirus is one of the most common causes of severe diarrhoea in children less than 2 years of age. It is one of the biggest killers in children in India.
- It is responsible for nearly 78,000 deaths, 32 lakh out-patient visits and nearly 9 lakh hospitalizations every year.
- The vaccine will prevent Rotavirus diarrhoea in children which accounts for approximately 40% of hospitalizations from diarrhoea in India.
- Rotavirus vaccine supplemented by proper sanitation, hand washing practices, ORS and zinc supplementation will go a long way in reducing the mortality and morbidity due to diarrhoea in children.
- The Rotavirus is a genus of double-stranded RNA virus in the family Reoviridae.
- It most common causative agent of moderate-to-severe diarrhoea (MSD) among infants below 11 months age group and death among children less than five years of age.
- Transmission: The virus spreads from person to person due to bacterial and parasiting agents that are primarily transmitted through contaminated food or water.
- Impact on Health: It causes gastroenteritis after it damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis. In some cases in causes malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children.
About Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP)
The UIP provide free of cost vaccines to all children across the country to protect them against 11 life threatening diseases. These 11 diseases are Tuberculosis, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Polio, Pneumonia and Meningitis due to Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib), Measles, Rubella, Rotavirus diarrhoea and Japanese Encephalitis (JE). (Rubella, JE and Rotavirus vaccine are given in select states and districts). It is the largest birth cohort in the world vaccinating around 26 million children annually.