The Hindu Editorial Summary

Topic-1 : Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) Turns 50

GS-2 Mains Exam  : Health

Revision Notes

Question : In light of EPI’s 50th anniversary, outline a comprehensive strategy to transform the program into an “Essential Program on Immunization” that addresses the needs of all age groups. Analyze the objectives, key interventions, and anticipated outcomes of this transformation, emphasizing its potential to enhance vaccination rates and reduce health inequities.

50 Years of EPI

  • In 1974, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI).
  • EPI aimed to leverage existing immunization infrastructure and trained personnel to expand access to vaccines after the near-eradication of smallpox.
  • India launched its EPI program in 1978, renaming it the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) in 1985.
  • The last nationwide evaluation of India’s UIP, conducted with international experts, occurred two decades ago.

Successes of EPI

  • Globally, the percentage of children receiving three doses of DPT (a key immunization indicator) rose from 5% in the early 1970s to 84% in 2022.
  • Smallpox has been eradicated, polio nearly eliminated, and many vaccine-preventable diseases significantly reduced.
  • In India, child immunization coverage has steadily increased, with 76% of children receiving recommended vaccines in 2019-2021.
  • Government healthcare plays a crucial role in immunization, even in mixed health systems with a strong private sector. (e.g., 85-90% of vaccines delivered in India come from government facilities despite a two-thirds private sector share in overall healthcare)


UNICEF’s 2023 report identified a concerning global decline in childhood immunization coverage in 2021, the first in over a decade.

  • While India’s national and state-wise immunization coverage has grown, inequities persist across geographic regions, socioeconomic groups, and other factors.
  • Urgent interventions are needed to address these inequities and ensure all children have access to life-saving immunizations.

Vaccines for All Ages

  • Contrary to popular belief, vaccines aren’t just for children. Early vaccines developed in the 1800s targeted adults (rabies, cholera, typhoid).
  • Even the first plague vaccine (1897) from India aimed to protect all age groups.
  • While children are prioritized due to vulnerability, vaccines have always been intended for everyone.

Government Action Needed

  • Many countries are expanding immunization to adults and the elderly. It’s time for India to follow suit.
  • Initial steps include policy discussions and technical considerations. The recent HPV vaccine announcement for girls is a positive move.
  • Following National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) recommendations, free government-provided vaccines should be available for all age groups.
  • NTAGI should also recommend adult and elderly immunization schedules.
  • Proactive efforts are needed to address vaccine hesitancy and dispel myths.
  • Medical professionals (community medicine experts, family physicians, pediatricians) should raise awareness about adult and elderly immunization.
  • Medical institutions should research the disease burden in India’s adult population.

The Way Forward: An Essential Program on Immunization

  • Expanding adult and elderly immunization can improve childhood vaccination rates and reduce inequities.
  • To mark EPI’s 50th year, the program needs to focus on reaching zero-dose children, addressing coverage gaps, and offering vaccines to all age groups.
  • It’s time to transform EPI into an “Essential Program on Immunization.”




The Hindu Editorial Summary

Topic-2 : Methane Emissions: New Study Reveals Microbes as Major Source

GS-3 Mains Exam  : Environment Conversation

Revision Notes


Question : Explain the traditional understanding of methane sources and how recent research has shifted this perspective. Discuss the role of microbes, particularly archaea, in methane production and the various environments where methane is generated.

 Basic Concept :

Microbial emission refers to the process of releasing gases produced by the life and metabolism of microbes. Microbes are single-celled organisms such as bacteria, archaea, fungi, and protozoa.

Some microbial emissions are beneficial to the environment, while others can be harmful. Some examples:

  • Beneficial emissions: Certain microbes help transfer nitrogen from the atmosphere to the soil through a process called nitrogen fixation, which is essential for plant growth. Other microbes decompose organic matter, contributing to increased soil fertility.
  • Harmful emissions: Some microbes produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Methane is even more effective than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere. Additionally, some microbes are pathogens that can cause disease in humans, animals, and plants.

Human activities, such as intensive agriculture and poor waste management practices, can often promote the unbalanced growth of microbes, leading to increased harmful emissions.

Back to the Editorial

Methane – A Potent Greenhouse Gas

  • Methane (CH4) is the second most abundant human-caused greenhouse gas after CO2.
  • Over a century, its warming potential is 28 times greater than CO2, and even higher over shorter periods.
  • Recently, reducing methane emissions became a focus for mitigating global warming (e.g., the UN’s 2021 Global Methane Pledge).

Shifting Understanding of Sources

  • Traditionally, fossil fuel burning was considered the primary methane source.
  • New research suggests microbes are the biggest contributors, with emissions from human activities further increasing the problem.

Microbial Methane Production

  • Microbes called archaea (distinct from bacteria) produce methane in oxygen-deficient environments.
  • These methanogens exist in animal digestive tracts, wetlands, rice paddies, landfills, and lake/ocean sediments.
  • Methane production is part of the natural carbon cycle, but human activities disrupt this balance.
  • Agriculture, dairy farming, and fossil fuel production all contribute to increased methane emissions.

Biogenic vs. Thermogenic Methane

  • Biogenic methane comes from microbial activity.
  • Thermogenic methane originates from deep within the Earth’s crust (released during fossil fuel extraction).
  • Isotope analysis helps differentiate these sources:
    • Less carbon-13 (¹³C) indicates a biological source.
    • More ¹³C indicates a thermogenic source.

New Study Findings

  • Researchers used a supercomputer model to analyze methane isotopes.
  • Their findings contrasted with existing emissions inventories (EDGAR & GAINS):
    • EDGAR reported rising methane emissions from oil/gas exploration (1990-2020).
    • GAINS suggested a large, unconventional emissions increase since 2006.
  • The new study contradicts both reports, suggesting a microbial source for the increase.

Possible Explanations for Increased Microbial Emissions

  • Increased cattle rearing in Latin America.
  • More waste emissions in developing regions (South/Southeast Asia, Latin America, Africa).
  • Global wetland expansion.

Challenges and the Way Forward

  • Satellite data used in past studies has limitations:
    • Difficulty measuring actual methane changes over time.
    • Reliance on models, leading to uncertainties.
  • Ground-based models are needed to confirm interpretations from satellite data.

Conclusion: Reducing Methane Emissions

  • Regardless of source, reducing methane emissions is crucial.
  • Focus on controlling human activities that contribute most:
    • Waste management (landfills)
    • Rice cultivation
    • Animal digestion (enteric fermentation)
    • Oil and gas production


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