Factly articles for December 12, 2020

WHO releases Global Health Estimates 2019

News: World Health Organization(WHO) has released the Global Health Estimates 2019.


  • Global Health Estimates: The report provides a comprehensive and comparable assessment of mortality and loss of health due to diseases and injuries for all regions of the world.The new data of Global Health Estimates cover the period from 2000 to 2019.

Key Takeaways:

  • Top Ten Causes of Death: Ischaemic heart disease, Stroke, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Lower respiratory infections, Neonatal conditions, Trachea, bronchus and lung cancers, Alzheimer disease, Diarrhoeal diseases, Diabetes mellitus, Kidney diseases.
  • Noncommunicable diseases make up 7 of the world’s top 10 causes of death.This is an increase from 4 of the 10 leading causes in 2000.
  • Global decline in deaths from communicable diseases but still a major challenge in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Heart disease caused the most deaths and was responsible for 16% of total deaths.Since 2000, it has seen the largest increase in deaths rising by more than 2 million to nearly 9 million deaths in 2019.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are now among the top 10 causes of death worldwide.Globally, 65% of deaths from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are women.
  • Deaths from diabetes increased by 70% globally between 2000 and 2019, with an 80% rise in deaths among males.
  • Life expectancy has increased by more than 6 years between 2000 and 2019 – from 66.8 years in 2000 to 73.4 years in 2019.

Draft Indian Ports Bill,2020

News: Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has circulated draft of Indian Ports Bill 2020 for public consultation which will repeal and replace the Indian Ports Act, 1908.


  • Aim: To enable the structured growth and sustainable development of ports to attract investments in the Port sector for optimum utilisation of the Indian Coastline by effective administration and management of ports.

Key Provisions of the Bill:

  • Constitution of Maritime Port Regulatory Authority
  • Formulation of the National Port policy and National Port plan in consultation with Coastal State Governments, State Maritime Boards and other stakeholders.
  • Formulation of specialised Adjudicatory Tribunals namely Maritime Ports Tribunal and Maritime Ports Appellate Tribunal to curb anti-competitive practises in the port sector and act as a speedy and affordable grievance redressal mechanism.

Declare exotic pets, avoid prosecution: how one-time scheme works

News: The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC) has come out with an advisory on a one-time voluntary disclosure scheme that allows owners of exotic live species that have been acquired illegally or without documents to declare their stock to the government.


  • Aim of the scheme: To address the challenge of zoonotic diseases, develop an inventory of exotic live species for better compliance under the CITES and regulate their import.In its current form, the amnesty scheme is just an advisory and not a law.
  • Exotic wildlife covered under scheme: The advisory has defined exotic live species as animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the CITES.It does not include species from the Schedules of the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972.The advisory excludes exotic birds from the amnesty scheme.
  • Process for disclosure: The disclosure has to be done online through MoEFCC’s Parivesh portal The owner of the animal(s) will have to declare the stock to the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) of the concerned state or Union Territory.This will be followed by a physical verification of the animals.

Additional Facts:

  • Exotics Animals: These are those species that are mentioned under the Appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) but not under the schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Pro Active Responsive facilitation by Interactive and Virtuous Environmental Single window Hub(PARIVESH) Portal: It is a Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change initiative for single window clearances of Environment, Forests and Wildlife and Coastal Regulation Zone(CRZ) Clearances.
  • CITES: It is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in wild animals, birds and plants does not endanger them. India is a member. Appendices I, II and III of CITES list 5,950 species as protected against over-exploitation through international trade.

Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility(APVAX)

News: Asian Development Bank(ADB) has launched a $9 billion vaccine initiative—the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX).


  • Aim: To offer rapid and equitable support to its developing members as they procure and deliver effective and safe coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.
  • Criteria: If a country has to obtain finances under APVAX, then it should fulfil one of the three criteria:
    • It must be procured through COVAX.
    • It should be prequalified by World Health Organization
    • It should be authorised by a stringent regulatory authority.

Additional Facts:

  • COVAX: It is an alliance co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations(CEPI) and WHO.It aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
  • Asian Development Bank(ADB): It is a regional development bank established in 1966 to promote social and economic development in Asia.
    • Members: 68 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside.
    • Headquarters: Manila, Philippines.

New species of ecologically vital plant found in Western Ghats

News: A new species of Indian Muraingrasses (Genus Ischaemum) have been spotted by scientists in Goa in the Western Ghats.


  • Ischaemum Janarthanamii: It is a species of Muraingrass which is known for their ecological and economic importance such as fodder.
  • Named after: It was named in the honour of Prof. M. K. Janarthanam, Professor of Botany, Goa University.
  • Vegetation: The species grows on low altitude lateritic plateaus in the outskirts of Bhagwan Mahavir National Park, Goa.
  • Significance: The species has adapted to survive harsh conditions and blossom every monsoon.

New cross-sector initiative for universal health coverage

News: Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System initiative has been launched.


  • Lancet Citizens Commission: It is a first of its kind participatory, countrywide initiative in collaboration with world’s leading health journal The Lancet and the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.
  • Objective: To develop a citizens’ roadmap to achieving universal health coverage(UHC) in India over a period of ten years.
  • Principles: The Commission will be guided by four principles:
    • UHC covers all health concerns;
    • Prevention and long-term care are key.
    • The concern is financial protection for all health costs and
    • Aspiring for a health system that can be accessed by all who enjoy the same quality.

Union Minister inaugurates Koilwar Bridge

News: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has inaugurated the three-lane Koilwar bridge.


  • Koilwar Bridge: It is a bridge constructed over the Sone river in Bihar. This rail-cum-road bridge connects Arrah with Patna, the capital of Bihar state in India.

Additional Facts:

  • Son River: It is the second largest of the Ganges southern tributaries after Yamuna River.Its chief tributaries are the Rihand, Kanhar and the North Koel.

ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus(ADMM-Plus)

News: India’s defence minister attended the 14th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus organized online at Hanoi,Vietnam.


  • ADMM-Plus: It is a platform for ASEAN countries and its eight Dialogue Partners.It was held for the first time in Hanoi,Vietnam in 2010.
  • Eight Dialogue Partners: Australia,New Zealand, India, China, Russia, the US, Japan and South Korea.
  • Aim: To promote mutual trust and confidence between defence establishments of ASEAN and its eight partner countries through greater dialogue and transparency.
  • Areas of Cooperation: Maritime security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping operations military medicine and humanitarian mine action.

Additional Facts:

  • ASEAN: It is a regional grouping which was established in 1967 with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration.
    • Members: Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, and Laos.
    • Headquarters: Jakarta, Indonesia.