QUESTION : Why is Hepatitis C considered to be a global health concern? Discuss.
Topic- VANQUISHING VIRUSES
- Nobel Prize in the discovery of Hepatitis C virus
WHY IN NEWS ?
- Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles M Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.
MORE ABOUT NEWS :
- The Nobel Committee noted that the trio’s work helped explain a major source of blood-borne Hepatitis C virus that couldn’t be explained by the hepatitis A and B viruses.
- Tests have been developed to identify blood that has this virus, so that infected blood is not given to any patient.
ABOUT HEPATITIS :
- Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.
- The Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause for the disease but other infections, toxic substances e.g. alcohol, certain drugs, and some autoimmune diseases can also be the cause of it.
- There are five main types of hepatitis viruses namely A, B, C, D and E. While all cause liver disease, they vary in important ways.
- Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water (transmitted via oral-faecal route).
- Hepatitis B, C and D are transmitted through unsafe blood transfusions or contaminated needles/syringes (particularly among the drug users), sexual-transmission or even mother-to-child transmission.
- Hepatitis A and B are preventable by vaccine.
- There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. However, it can be treated with antiviral medication.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS DISCOVERY :
- According to the World Health Organization, about 71 million people (6 -11 million of them in India) have chronic infection with the Hepatitis C virus, which also happens to be a major cause of liver cancer.
- No vaccine: A vaccine for the disease has still not been developed.
- The disease is hard to detect because it remains asymptomatic for a long time before leading to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
- The discoveries of Hepatitis B and C (HBV and HCV), and the establishment of effective screening routines, have virtually eliminated the risk of transmission via blood products.
- Three main causes of blood-borne infections — Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV — all have been identified.
INDIA AND HEPATITIS C :
- An estimated 0.5-1 per cent of the country’s population (or 10-13 million people) suffers from Hepatitis C.
- Punjab has a larger burden of disease due to high drug-abuse and injectable drugs usage.
GLOBAL SCENARIO :
- According to WHO, Hepatitis B and C together are the most common cause of deaths, with 1.3 million lives lost each year.
- In 2016, 194 governments across the globe adopted WHO’s global strategy which aims at eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.
INDIAN SCENARIO :
- In India, 40 million people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B virus and 6 to 12 million with the Hepatitis C virus.
- In 2018, the government launched the National Viral Hepatitis Program. The program is the largest program for Hepatitis B and C diagnosis and treatment in the world.
STEPS BY INDIA TO ADDRESS HEPATITIS ISSUES :
- Inclusion of Hepatitis B vaccination under the expanded Universal Immunization Programme.
- Launching of the National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme in July 2018 under National Health Mission by the Health Ministry. The aim of the programme is to combat hepatitis and achieve countrywide elimination of Hepatitis C by 2030.
- Recently, an automated coronavirus testing device named ‘COBAS 6800’ was launched which can also detect viral Hepatitis B & C, among others.
QUESTION : Disinformation is as dangerous as misinformation. With reference to increased instances of fake news, comment on measures to address the same.
Topic- APPROACHING THE MISINFORMATION STORM
Social Media and Fake News
WHY IN NEWS ?
- The article discusses the major concerns over the advent of social media platforms as information and news dispersion media and suggests certain measures to counter these shortcomings.
IMPORTANT DEFINITIONS :
- DISINFORMATION :
Information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organisation or country.
Information that is false but not created with the intention of causing harm
- MAL-INFORMATION :
Information that is based on reality, used to inflict harm on a person, social group, organisation or country.
- The increasing availability of affordable internet services has led to a situation where anywhere between 500 million and 700 million people are now newly online in India, almost all from towns and rural areas.
- Of late, there has been a growing call to hold the tech firms accountable for their actions. These firms have been struggling to meet calls to contain the online spread of misinformation and hate speech online and are also being accused of suppressing both left-wing and right-wing views.
- Biases News :
Most of the information available to the people have been through the social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter where there are no journalistic norms and anyone can say anything at any time about any topic with scant respect for the truth.
- The threat of false news:
The spread of false and malicious news can stoke violence at short notice
- Echo chamber algorithms:
The echo chamber effect has been greatly enhanced by the highly targeted algorithms that the social media companies use
CAUSES FOR RISE IN FAKE NEWS :
- Internet and Social media: Many people now get news from social media sites and networks and often it can be difficult to tell whether stories are credible or not. Social media sites can play a big part in increasing the reach of these types of stories.
- Lack of Checking Authenticity: Everyone is busy in sharing/liking/commenting on news items without checking the authenticity of news.
- No codes of practice for Social Media: Traditionally we got our news from trusted sources, journalists and media outlets that are required to follow strict codes of practice. However, the internet has enabled a whole new way to publish, share and consume information and news with very little regulation or editorial standards.
- Stratified Organization of Fake News: Fake news is no longer being considered a rare or isolated phenomenon, but appears to be organized and shrewdly disseminated to a target population. It is believed that the high possibility of these organized bodies coming into existence with the help of political influence.
IMPORTANT FAKE NEWS EXAMPLE FROM INDIA :
Misinformation related to coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is in the form of social media messages related to home remedies that have not been verified, fake advisories and conspiracy theories
Misinformation and disinformation related to Kashmir is widely prevalent
- 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, which claimed over 60 lives and displaced thousands, were fueled by videos circulated on WhatsApp.
- As part of the 2016 Indian banknote demonetisation, India introduced a new 2,000-rupee currency note. Following this, multiple fake news reports about “spying technology” added in the banknotes went viral on Whatsapp and had to be dismissed by the government.
- The NaMo app, an app dedicated to Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, was reported to have promoted and spread fake news.
- Indian WhatsApp lynchings
DANGERS/THREATS POSED BY FAKE NEWS :
- Political parties try to gain political advantages by polarizing the voter’s mind which further intensifies the tensions between different sections of society.
- Political campaigning has progressed from mere appeals in the name of identity or loyalty or tall promises to something akin to psychological warfare.
As communal tendencies emerge in politics due to the spread of fake news economic development has taken back seat. The problems faced by the problems are not solved by the government.
It can disturb the social fabric of the society and tensions among communities persists for long times. It can lead to violence between two or more communities thereby creating enmity and hatred between them. It reduces the tendencies of cooperation between different communities.
Deep fakes are used by countries to target other countries and bring chaos or desired political changes. China and Russia are using deep fakes to target the hostile countries to gain political and trade benefits.
Faith in Media:
People’s faith in social, print and electronic media reduces which could affect the benefits of these Media as well the spirit of democracy as media being the fouth estate of democracy. In its purest form, fake news is completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue.
STEPS TO BE TAKEN AS WAY FORWARD :
- TECH GIANTS : First, we know that tech firms are already under fire from all quarters.
- ACCUSED AND SUPPRESSED :
Tech giants are struggling to contain the online spread of misinformation and hate speech online, they are being accused of suppressing both left-wing and right-wing views.
- CHECKS AND BALANCES :
Second, unlike the U.S., which has now become unlikely to directly regulate such firms, India might need to chart its own path by keeping them under check before they proliferate.
- REGULATING THIRD PARTIES :
Google and Facebook clearly engage in both free speech and press activities when they display content created by third-parties.
- DECORUM OF INTERNET :
New Indian legislation needs to preserve free speech while still applying pressure to make sure that Internet content is filtered for accuracy, and sometimes, plain decency.
- CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY :
Facebook, for instance, has started to address this matter by publishing ‘transparency reports’ and setting up an ‘oversight board’ to act as a sort of Supreme Court for Facebook’s internal matters.
- TRANSPARENCY :
However, for all these companies’ efforts at transparency, we cannot ignore the fact that these numbers reflect judgements that are made behind closed doors.
- CLARITY IN DATA :
What should be regulatory attempts to influence the transparency of information that members of the public see are instead being converted into secret corporate processes.
- EXTENT OF BIAS :
We have no way of knowing the extent of biases that may be inherent inside each firm.
- HYPER-PERSONALISATION :
The fact that their main algorithms target advertising and hyper-personalisation of content makes them further suspect as arbiters of balanced news.
- ACCESS TO VARIETY :
This means that those who use social media platforms must pull in another direction to maintain access to a range of sources and views.