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India launches 'MERA India' to eliminate malaria by 2030; China defends Belt and Road Initiative - Current Affairs

MERA India alliance holds utmost importance to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the operational research. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier appreciated India’s research in malaria and hence, the country now aims to ensure Malaria elimination by 2030.

Apr 26, 2019 17:57 IST
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Story 1: ICMR launches 'MERA India' alliance to eliminate malaria from India by 2030

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on April 25, 2019 launched the 'Malaria Elimination Research Alliance (MERA) India', a gathering of partners working together to plan and scale up research to eliminate Malaria from India by 2030.

MERA India alliance holds utmost importance to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the operational research. The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier appreciated India’s research in malaria and hence, the country now aims to ensure its elimination by 2030.

The alliance was launched on the occasion of the World Malaria Day 2019.

Objective

The principal motive of the ‘MERA India’ alliance is to prioritise, plan, conduct, and scale up research in a coordinated way to have a solid impact on the population who are at risk of malaria.

India has made impressive progress in malaria control in the recent years. The malaria burden in India declined by over 80 percent from 2.03 million cases in 2000 to 0.39 million in 2018. Deaths by malaria also declined by over 90 percent from 932 deaths in 2000 to 85 in 2018.

Highlights of 'MERA India' alliance

The National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP) developed a comprehensive framework to achieve "Malaria free India by 2030".

The NVBDCP's National Strategic Plan recognises the critical role of research to support and guide malaria elimination efforts.

The MERA India does not duplicate the international efforts to eliminate Malaria rather complement the efforts on a national scale.

The alliance will facilitate trans-institutional coordination and collaboration around a collaborative research agenda.

All about Malaria

Malaria is caused by a Plasmodium Parasites that is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected Anopheles mosquitoes.

In humans, the parasites (called sporozoites) migrate to the liver where they mature and release another form, the merozoites.

The majority of Malaria symptoms are caused by the massive release of merozoites into the bloodstream such as anaemia is caused by the destruction of the red blood cells.

There are five parasites that can cause Malaria in humans and the deadliest of all is Plasmodium Falciparum.

Children under the age of 5 and pregnant women are most susceptible to the disease.

More than 70 per cent or two thirds of total malaria deaths constitute children under the age of 5.

Early diagnosis followed by speedy treatment is of the utmost importance.

Story 2: China defends Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 26, 2019 defended his ambitious ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), vowing to prevent debt risks and saying that his global infrastructure project is not an exclusive club.  

The clarification came after various nations accused that Belt and Road is a "debt trap" and a geopolitical tool for Beijing's ambitions of becoming a global superpower.

The BRI aims to bring about much-needed transformation in developing countries; however, critics believe that the initiative favours Chinese companies while burdening other nations with debt and causing environmental damage.

President Xi took the stand at the second edition of the three-day Belt and Road Forum. The three-day forum was attended by leaders of 37 countries and officials from scores of other nations. However, India once again managed to skip the event.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte were among the prominent dignitaries.

Why India skipped the Belt and Road Forum?

It was for the second time that India skipped the Belt and Road Forum in a protest against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key component of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through the disputed Kashmir held by Pakistan and claimed by it. The corridor connects the Chinese city of Kashgar with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

The CPEC project runs through the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), an integral part of India. It portends that China may emerge as a ‘direct party’ in the Kashmir dispute in future.

What is Belt and Road Initiative?

• The Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy, which was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

• The initiative aims to create ‘One Belt, One Road’ by establishing new routes linking three continents - Asia, Europe and Africa by 2049.

• The initiative focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People's Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia, which consists of two main components, the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" and oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road".

• The initiative was unveiled in two separate announcements in September 2013 and October 2013, revealing the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road, respectively.

• The Belt and Road Initiative aims to reinvent the ancient Silk Road to connect Asia to Europe and Africa through massive investments in maritime, road and rail projects.

• The initiative is geographically structured along 6 corridors and the maritime Silk Road. They are:

  1. New Eurasian Land Bridge, running from Western China to Western Russia
  2. China - Mongolia - Russia Corridor, running from Northern China to Eastern Russia
  3. China - Central Asia - West Asia Corridor, running from Western China to Turkey
  4. China - Indochina Peninsula Corridor, running from Southern China to Singapore
  5. China - Pakistan Economic Corridor, running from South-Western China to Pakistan
  6. Bangladesh - China - India - Myanmar Corridor, running from Southern China to India
  7. Maritime Silk Road, running from the Chinese Coast over Singapore and India to the Mediterranean

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