First malaria vaccine to be tested in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi in 2018

The World Health Organization has announced that it is ready to test the first malaria vaccine in the real world setting in 2018. The aim of the testing will be to ascertain whether the vaccine will work under real world circumstances or not. Kenya, Ghana and Malawi have been chosen for taking part in the pilot project.

The vaccine, RTS,S, also known as Mosquirix, was produced by GlaxoSmithKline in 1987 in a public-private partnership with the PATH Malaria Initiative and with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2015, the vaccine received approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

First malaria vaccine to be tested in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi in 2018

For the next four years (2017-2021), the vaccine will be administered to children between 5 and 17 months in Kenya, Ghana and Malawi. The vaccine will be given four times and will be administered by an intramuscular injection.

The RTS, S vaccine works by targeting the liver phase of the malaria parasite’s life cycle as the parasite multiplies inside the liver after getting introduced into the body by a mosquito bite. It has taken about 30 years for the creation of the vaccine to the approval of pilot programme in 2017. Only five species of Plasmodium parasite spread malarial parasite worldwide.

Need

According to WHO, malaria kills one child every two minutes and has killed 429,000 people in 2015. According to the WHO World Malaria Report 2016, Nigeria suffers most malaria deaths worldwide (26%), followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (10%), India (6%), and Mali (5%). African continent suffers the most mosquito-borne ailments and there still exists gaps in prevention coverage as many people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to mosquito protection like bed nets or bug spray.

 

Northeast India’s largest IT hub opens in Tripura

Northeast’s sixth and largest hub for information technology has been inaugurated in Agartala. The hub has been set up at a cost of Rs 50 crore to boost employment and e-governance besides export of software technology. The hub is expected to create more employment opportunities for the youths and extend the e-governance to cover all the people of the region. This would facilitate famous IT companies to set off their business and services and boost export of software technology. This will be the largest hub in the region.

Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), under the union Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology, helped the state government in setting up of the hub by sharing the technological knowledge. In the new IT hub, ready-to-use incubation space will be made available that can be used by the start-up companies, aspiring entrepreneurs, Indian and multi-national companies as per their needs and requirements.

Last year, Tripura got an award for its performance in IT and e-governance from the central government. The state has already extended many e-governance based facilities and services up to the level of gram panchayats. The e-district scheme in the state helps people in getting various certificates and documents from their concerned panchayats or blocks. It is estimated that the state’s 80 percent of the state’s 37 lakh population have begun to use mobile phones leading to an IT boom.

Significance

Tripura has a vast pool of skilled English speaking IT manpower. Thousands of these professionals are currently working in cities like Bengaluru or Hyderabad. Opening up of IT hub offers a new opportunity for not only Tripura but the whole of northeast India. With India’s recent agreement with Bangladesh over the purchase of surplus bandwidth and its close proximity to Bangladesh, Tripura can act as a “backyard” of the fledgling IT industry of Bangladesh. It can make use of Bangladesh’s plans to double its IT exports by 2017.

K Viswanath wins Dadasaheb Phalke Award for 2016

Veteran filmmaker and actor Kasinadhuni Viswanath has been conferred Dadasaheb Phalke award for 2016 by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. The award consists of a Swarn Kamal (Golden Lotus), a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakhs and a shawl.

K Viswanath

Viswanath was born in February 1930 in Andhra Pradesh. As a director he has made fifty films on varied themes of art, music and dance. In 1992, he received Padmashri Award for his contribution to film making. He has also won 5 National Awards, 20 Nandi Awards of Andhra Pradesh government, 10 Filmfare Awards including Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dadasaheb Phalke Award

The award is conferred by the Union Government for outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian Cinema. The Award was established in 1969 to commemorate the birth centenary year of father of Indian cinema, Dadasaheb Phalke. It is the highest official recognition (award) in Indian cinema. It is given on the basis of recommendations of a committee of eminent personalities set up by the government.

India becomes World No.2 LPG importer

India has become world’s second largest LPG importer, a position that was previously occupied by Japan. China remains as the world’s top importer. According to Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell, LPG imports in the country has increased 23% during the financial year 2016-2017 to about 11 million tonnes.

The main reason behind the increase in the consumption of LPG in India is due to the two government schemes coupled with free gas connections. From May 2016, the government is providing free cooking gas connections to women from extremely poor households, to reduce the use of polluting fuels such as wood and dried cow dung. This has increased India’s active LPG users to about 200 million, which is 60% more than Japan’s entire population. According to the World Health Organization, polluting fuels used for cooking purposes results in 1.3 million premature deaths in India every year.

India has set an ambitious target of increasing LPG usage to cover 80% of the households by March 2019. As per the present estimates of the oil ministry, demand for fuel will touch 35 million tonnes by 2031-32 in India.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

PMUY was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2016 with the tagline of Swachh Indhan, Behtar Jeevan. The scheme’s motive is to provide free of cost LPG (cooking gas) connections to women from BPL Households.

The scheme seeks to empower women and protect their health by shifting them from traditional cooking based on unclean cooking fuels or on fossil fuels to clean cooking gas. It is being implemented by Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. The scheme will be implemented over three years’ time period until the financial year 2018-19.