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Indian Express

27-October-2023

1) WARMING UP, BREAKING THE ICE

Context:

  • Being the host of the G20 Summit, India has been noteworthy for bringing together a wide range of international players.
  • It demonstrates India’s capacity to strike a balance between the conflicting interests of the Global South and North.
  • This article will discuss how India’s role is essential to protecting our global climate, including critically important ecosystems such as the Arctic.

The Crucial Role of Consensus in Protecting the Global Climate

  • India’s capacity to unite major powers is regarded as an essential instrument for combating climate change, which includes preserving crucial habitats like the Arctic.
  • Sea ice is receding and permafrost is melting as a result of the Arctic’s increased warmth which is a major cause of concern.
  • Large volumes of stored carbon could be released into the atmosphere as a result of these changes, which would be equivalent to the US’s entire emissions history at its current rate.

Why is it important to protect the Arctic?

  • Protecting the Arctic is essential to reducing the worst consequences of the climate catastrophe.
  • The Global South is disproportionately affected by climate change, and new studies have shown a link between the disappearing Arctic Sea ice and intense rainfall events during the Indian summer monsoon, which is essential to South Asian agriculture and livelihoods.
  • This demonstrates the interdependence of ecosystems throughout the world and the necessity of consensus-based group action to mitigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

Growing Challenges and Geopolitical Tensions

  • Even while the importance of the Arctic is well acknowledged, increased geopolitical tensions and fast development present the region with new problems.
  • Russia is investing extensively on commercializing and extending trade routes in the Arctic, despite the fact that heavy fuel oil, which emits high levels of pollution, is used for transportation in Arctic waters.
  • This suggests that the country prioritizes short-term commercial gains over long-term climate preservation.
  • Even while more and more banks are pledging not to fund these kinds of projects, other Arctic countries are still organizing oil and gas development initiatives.

Governance Challenges in the Arctic

  • The main organization in charge of safeguarding and utilizing the Arctic ecosystem is the Arctic Council, which is made up of eight nations having substantial stakes in the region.
  • However, because of the conflict in Ukraine, its functions have been suspended, making it difficult to hold nations responsible and keep an eye on actions that are contributing to Arctic changes.
  • Interestingly, the Arctic Council does not have any members from the Global South, while several do have observer status, such as India.

How India can impact Arctic Governance?

  • India has a chance to influence Arctic governance because of its special ability to serve as a link between the Global North and the Global South, as evidenced by the G20 Summit.
  • India can effectively represent the concerns of the Global South and push for the cessation of additional Arctic exploitation by actively participating in the Arctic Council.

Way Forward

  • India should prioritize climate protection in global Arctic policymaking and fight for reforms in Arctic governance as part of its post-G20 agenda as it assumes a more prominent position in promoting the interests of the Global South.
  • India might take advantage of the November virtual G20 Summit as a forum to start productive discussions on this issue and strive toward agreement on protecting vital global ecosystems, particularly the Arctic.
  • India’s ability to forge consensus will be essential to changing Arctic governance and preserving the environment.

2) Begin with the PHC

Context:

  • According to reports, more than 200 community health care centres and Public Health Centres (PHCs) in Uttar Pradesh are not even brick-and-mortar structures.
  • A majority of these projects began years before the current Yogi Adityanath government assumed office and the state’s health department has flagged irregularities in these construction works.
  • This article will discuss the role and challenges associated with PHCs.

What is PHC?

  • PHC is an essential component of the public health centre.
  • PHC serves as the patient’s first point of contact to a qualified healthcare provider in rural areas to provide preventive, curative, and promotive treatment options.
  • It can also be understood as the basic unit of the public health system to increase the accessibility and affordability of health services to people.
  • Furthermore, a PHC operates for 24 hours and caters to the specific needs of a given community.
  • These needs are not limited to medical supplies such as medications, needles, and medical apparel.
  • PHC also deals with patient education, nutrition, sanitation, and other services.

Challenges:

India has made significant strides in its healthcare sector, however, there remain several challenges that need to be addressed.

Infrastructure:

  • The state of infrastructure varies across states with some having better arrangements than others.
  • shortages of doctors, frontline medical professionals,
  • Urban areas need to bridge the gap in hospital services between large urban areas and tier II and III cities.
  • Standalone hospitals and nursing homes provide much-needed service but are unable to provide multi-speciality, leave alone tertiary and quaternary care.
  • The gaps between services available in metros and big cities and in districts must be bridged.

Lagging state commitment:

  • Many states have not sufficiently risen to the task of managing healthcare shortages and enhancing rural healthcare accessible, particularly those with historically low performance in welfare indicators.
  • Uttar Pradesh, for instance, where after years of planning, more than 200 PHCs and community healthcare clinics have not yet been created.
  • There have also been inconsistencies in construction work as revealed by the state administration.

Dominance of Private Healthcare Facilities

  • In India, the majority of healthcare facilities are private and are mostly found in urban areas.
  • These clinics frequently don’t prioritize preventive treatment and don’t take a community-oriented approach.
  • The infrastructure for public healthcare in rural areas needs to be strengthened.

Challenges in rural healthcare

  • Center’s Rural Health Statistics highlights ongoing difficulties in providing healthcare in rural areas.
  • These difficulties include a lack of physicians and inadequate infrastructure for providing healthcare—only 45% of PHCs are open around-the-clock.
  • In addition, numerous states, notably Uttar Pradesh, are concerned about the nursing shortage.

Role of PHCs in Building Trust

  • For rural populations and medical professionals, public health centers (PHCs) are the initial point of contact.
  • They are essential in fostering community trust in the local healthcare system.
  • The importance of this position has been highlighted by a number of disease outbreaks, including as the COVID-19 pandemic and encephalitis epidemics in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Way Forward:

  • States like Uttar Pradesh and other regions with low healthcare indices urgently need to solve their healthcare problems.
  • For the purpose of minimizing the spread of illness and efficiently handling medical emergencies, well-equipped medical centers at the village and district levels are essential.
  • States must move quickly to enhance their healthcare systems and address the scarcity of medical personnel, especially those that are struggling with healthcare issues.
  • Building a strong healthcare system is an urgent need, particularly in rural areas.

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