ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Evidence-based Inquiry into the Endosulfan Tragedy in Kasaragod, Kerala

A review of the literature on the toxicology of endosulfan and assessment of the various pesticide-regulating agencies worldwide, as well as a statistical analysis of the medical camp data and primary data of the 2015 Kerala Disability Census, is carried out to elucidate possible evidence for higher prevalence of disabilities and disorders in the endosulfan-sprayed areas in Kasaragod, Kerala. The enquiry does not indicate a higher prevalence of the health problems in the endosulfan-sprayed areas in Kasaragod, compared to the unsprayed areas in the place and elsewhere in Kerala.

National Lockdown and COVID-19 Containment in India

What impact the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown has had on the spread of the virus in Class 1 cities of India is discussed using an interrupted time series model. Four variants of the susceptible–infected–recovered models are used to develop a counterfactual, which are compared with actual data. The analysis reveals that the lockdown has reduced the number of COVID-19 cases by 23.65 million–33.77 million and averted approximately 0.001 million–0.010 million deaths. At the regional level, it has prevented a major health crisis as existing intensive care unit and ventilator facilities for critically ill patients would have been inadequate.

COVID-19 Lockdown and Human Development

Maharashtra has emerged as the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the trade-off between lockdowns to flatten the infection curve and saving an already slow economy, there is a significant human cost, thus exposing and deepening the existing structural inequalities. The article maps and analyses the impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown based on the three dimensions of human development—health and nutrition, education, and livelihood. Given the acute shortage of food supplies for certain groups during the period, the article examines the government response by analysing the implementation of food programmes.

Plantation Workers and the OSHWC Code, 2020

Welfare provisions for plantation workers in the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 are subject to how respective state governments frame rules and can have wide variations too. A basic standard template from the central government would have been better, preventing wide variations, as well as ensuring a basic threshold. Further, there is a need to recognise the use of technology in ensuring better occupational safety and health outcomes.

Biofortification

Biofortification refers to the increase in the amount of essential vitamins or provitamins or minerals in crops to improve the nutritional status of the people. The article argues that biofortification may not be an effective weapon to fight against the hidden hunger since it demonstrates limited capacity for nutritional enhancement and suggests a couple of alternatives.

Budget 2021–22

In the context of the pandemic, we evaluate budget 2021–22 and its six-pillar framework. We found lack of clarity as regards allocations under each of the pillars, and hence we undertook to group ministry-wise allocations under each of the pillars. This categorisation was even more liberal than the one that the finance minister herself spelt out. Despite that, we find that the budget fell short of what was required for problems facing the Indian economy.

Protection for Medical Professionals

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, when the recovery of the nation is contingent on doctors and healthcare personnel risking their lives every day, we must examine whether there is an equitable quid pro quo in terms of receiving service and providing protection. The causes of the antagonism between patients and doctors leading to violence against medical professionals are highlighted, and the efficiency of the legislations enacted for the protection of medicare professionals in India is examined. Finally, recommendations to remedy the deficiencies are provided.

Budget 2021–22 on Health

The budget speech on 1 February 2021 announced an allocation of over `2.2 lakh crore to health and well-being, at 137% higher compared to BE 2020–21. The Fifteenth Finance Commission emphasised the need for strengthening the COVID-19-ravaged health sector by recommending sector-specific grants. The government did not accept the recommendation and, if we discount the health component in the local government grants, the budget allocation for the sector has increased by hardly 10% compared to the 2019–20 actuals.

Impact of Natural Background Radiation on Health

High natural background radiation is a constant presence in the lives of those inhabiting some coastal regions of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. While there is agreement about the existence of radiation, some studies claim that it has no impact on the health of the population, while others disagree. There is a need to examine these findings critically, because of implications for public health, and to understand some of the technical reasons for why some papers appear to find no support for evidence (lack of statistical significance) of impact on health due to high levels of background radiation.

Catch-22 with COVID-19: Health or Economy?

How can India's economy grow in the midst of a pandemic, without compromising the health of the working population and aggravating the transmission of COVID-19?

Neglect of Household Biomedical Waste

While India has had a biomedical waste management rule since 1998, which was modified for ease in 2016, household biomedical waste has been neglected. Increased lifespan, rise of non-communicable diseases, the growing buying power, and better access to healthcare have resulted in the increased generation of household biomedical waste. This poses serious challenges to a frail public health system. This growing problem needs to be tackled by acknowledging it, introducing guidelines, and decentralising solutions, including facilitating recycling.

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