A New Global Roadmap to eradicate cholera has been developed by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC).
What is Cholera?
It is a bacterial disease causing severe diarrhea and dehydration, usually spread in water.
Key symptoms are diarrhoea and dehydration, rarely shock and seizures may occur in severe cases.
It can be fatal if not treated right away.
The treatment includes rehydration fluids and antibiotics.
World’s high-income countries have been cholera-free for nearly 150 years.
Despite this progress at least 47 countries still remain under the cholera threat.
What is GTFCC?
GTFCC is Global Task Force for Cholera Control.
WHO revitalized the Global Task Force for Cholera Control (GTFCC) to strengthen WHO’s work in eradicating cholera.
GTFCC has collaboration and coordination among relevant WHO departments and other relevant stakeholders.
The purpose of the GTFCC is to support increased implementation of evidence-based strategies to control cholera.
The GTFCC shall not be responsible for developing any technical norms or standards.
What is the Roadmap of GTFCC about?
The goal is to reduce cholera deaths by 90 per cent and elimination of the disease in at least 20 countries by 2030.
The new Global Roadmap developed by the Global Task Force on Cholera Control (GTFCC) is a renewed approach to tackle the epidemic.
It is an endeavor to support affected countries through an effective mechanism and supporting them through technical expertise, financial resources and operational structures by encouraging partnerships at local and global levels.
The roadmap comprises three strategic initiatives such as :-
Focus on containing cholera outbreaks.
Quick detection through surveillance and enhanced laboratory capabilities.
Immediate and effective response systems.
In addition, a multi-sectoral intervention will focus on “hotspots” (geographies with a high incidence of cholera) to implement control measures such as water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and oral cholera vaccines (OCVs).
The GTFCC will also facilitate efficient coordination between countries to provide necessary technical support and resource mobilisation.
What are the challenges in eradicating cholera?
Commonly-available interventions which can prevent and control cholera have largely been ineffective, driven mainly by the scarcity of basic resources.
With rapid population growth, urbanisation, climate change and the growing scarcity of resources, the risk of cholera is expected to continue increasing.
Geographical patterns of cholera outbreaks have shown that economically weaker countries are disproportionately affected.
More than two billion people in vulnerable countries still access drinking water from contaminated sources, and over 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation facilities.
Vulnerable countries still struggle to meet their basic WASH targets, with over 80 per cent of them reporting insufficient availability of financial resources.
Areas affected by adverse events and calamities conflict, war and famines are at a significantly higher risk.
With an estimated $2 billion in global healthcare costs and lost productivity every year, cholera carries a significant economic burden.
What measures needs to be taken?
Providing access to safe drinking water, improving basic sanitation facilities, access to basic medical care are mandatory requirements for a healthy nation.
Implementing mass immunisation programmes is a vital component to accelerate the process of making the countries cholera-free.
With a renewed strategy, the global roadmap aims to implement a series of initiatives to address the cholera epidemic, this needs to be implemented by the cholera affected countries.
Punjab Governments Failure & Initiatives To Curtail The Drug Menace
GS Mains Paper-2, Health, Social Issue
Why in news?
The Punjab CM has sought to enhance punishment for offenders amid the ongoing political churn against the government for failing to curtail drugs.
What has been Punjab government’s stance on drugs?
Immediately after assuming office, Punjab CM set up a “Special Task Force” (STF) against drugs.
STF arrested thousands of peddlers.
Within four weeks, the CM and the STF chief announced that the pre-election promise had been fulfilled, and supplies choked.
However the last one year has seen the “arrest of 19,000 drug peddlers and treatment of more than 2 lakh drug victims”.
Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act has also been involved in many cases with over 4,000 convictions already secured under the act.
Additionally, over 5,600 NDPS cases are under trial, and Punjab has recorded an impressive 82% conviction rate under NDPS.
What are the recent developments?
Despite the initial intensive crackdown, the drug problem seems to persisting in Punjab, and reports actually suggesting an increase in drug abuse.
A video of a woman wailing next to the body of her son who lies in a heap of garbage with a syringe still stuck in his veins has created a sensation.
Allegedly, there has also been a spurt in drug-related deaths, which is causing a political churn, with opposition parties voicing against the government.
While the government is believed to be under-reporting drug related deaths due to immense pressure, it has nonetheless asserted a stern crackdown.
Punjab CM has written to the union government, seeking to enhance punishment under the NDPS Act to deter drug abuse.
He has sought to bring in the death penalty for first-time offenders, besides declaring that government employees must undergo drug screening.
But a previous Bombay High Court judgement had held death penalty under NDPS Act as unconstitutional, thereby making the CM’s demand look naive.
What are the important initiatives to curtail the drug menace?
In March, the government launched “Drug Abuse Prevention Officer” (DAPO) project, a community participation programme.
Thousands volunteered registered as DAPOs to raise awareness and the government also leveraged its 3.5 lakh officials as DAPOs.
The effectiveness of the exercise is yet to be evaluated.
The Special Task Force (STF) designed a “buddy project”, aiming to include all schools and colleges for student awareness.
It has been launched in some areas and STF officers say it will soon be extended across the state and encompasses parents and teachers too.
Health department has opened about 81 “Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment” (OOAT) clinics for opium and heroin addicts.
This program is running since May and addicts are for the time-being given buprenorphine (an opioid substitute).
Last year, the Cabinet had decided to enact the “Confiscation of Drug Dealers Property Act”.
This could not take off as the home department informed the CMO that a similar provision already exists under the NDPS Act.
What are the challenges faced by the STF?
The STF was to directly report to the CM’s office, overlooking the State DGP and other police hierarchy.
This created some tussle, which reached its peak when the STF questioned an SP and also arrested a police inspector on drug charges.
These skirmishes visibly slowed down STF’s work and subsequently it was place back within the police hierarchy (reporting to the DGP).
Earlier this year, the government issued a notification to exclude STF from the RTI, as it was facing pressure to release sensitive information.
STF also had to face political headwinds as it had to inquire into the alleged involvement of an ex-minister from the SAD party in a drug mesh.