Syllabus GS II Structure, organisation and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
Discuss the supreme court’s direction on the MTP Act and explain the Gap in the MTP Act.
The Supreme Court expanded the scope of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to include unmarried women and allowed a 25-year-old woman to abort her 24-weeks pregnancy arising out of a consensual relationship.
A woman’s right to reproductive choice is an inseparable part of her personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution and she has a sacrosanct right to bodily integrity
Supreme court’s directive on the MTP Act:
- Denying an unmarried woman the right to a safe abortion violates her personal autonomy and freedom. Live-in relationships have been recognized by this Court
- In the event that the Medical Board concludes that the fetus can be aborted without danger to the life of the petitioner, a team of doctors at the AIIMS shall carry out the abortion in terms of the request which has been made before the High Court.
- The court ruled that before doing so the wishes of the woman shall be ascertained again and her written consent obtained after due verification of identity and a report shall be furnished to this Court after compliance with this order within a period of one week thereafter.
- Allowing the petitioner to terminate her pregnancy, on a proper interpretation of the statute, prima facie, falls within the ambit of the statute and the petitioner should not be denied the benefit on the ground that she is an unmarried woman.
- It added that the distinction between a married and unmarried woman does not bear a nexus to the basic purpose and object which is sought to be achieved by Parliament which is conveyed specifically by the provisions of Explanation 1 to Section 3 of the Act.
- In recognizing the right the legislature has not intended to make a distinction between a married and unmarried woman, in her ability to make a decision on whether or not to bear the child.
- These rights, it must be underscored, are in consonance with the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution.
- There is no basis to deny unmarried women the right to medically terminate the pregnancy when the same choice is available to other categories of women.
- Excluding unmarried women and single women from the ambit of the statute goes against the purpose of the legislation.
- Adding that the comparison of the MTP, Act of 1971 and MTP, Act of 2021, shows that the phrase ‘married woman’ was replaced by ‘any woman’ and the word ‘husband’ was replaced by ‘partner’.
Gap in the Medical termination of pregnancy Act:
- The court pointed out and said that there is a gap in the law as while Section 3 travels beyond conventional relationships based on marriage, Rule 3B of the MTP Rules does not envisage a situation involving unmarried women, but recognizes other categories of women such as divorcees, widows, minors, disabled and mentally ill women and survivors of sexual assault or rape.
- A situation involving an unwanted pregnancy caused as a result of the failure of any device or method used by a woman or her partner for the purpose of limiting the number of children or preventing pregnancy.
- The Parliamentary intent, therefore, is clearly not to confine the beneficial provisions of the MTP Act only to a situation involving a matrimonial relationship. On the contrary, a reference to the expression “any woman or her partner” would indicate that a broad meaning and intent has been intended to be ascribed by Parliament.
The Supreme Court’s expansion of the law to include unmarried women as part of the MTP Act has given women in similar circumstances an option now to access healthcare services without having to travel the long legal route to the top court every time.
~Source The Hindu
Syllabus GS III Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
How was waste water surveillance used to find the hotspot of the infections and explain how this method improves the underestimation of infections.
Wastewater or sewage can tell us volumes about the health of a community. The idea here is very simple: most pathogens of interest, e.g., bacteria, virus or protozoa remain viable in the sewage environment for days.
Wastewater-based health surveillance or environmental surveillance is an excellent tool for tracking the presence of different pathogens in the environment. All it needs is a regular and consistent testing of wastewater. It is quite economical and provides real-time data, which makes it very useful for developing countries such as India where not everyone has access to healthcare.
- Monitored viral load and simultaneously sequenced samples in real-time to show which variant(s) was causing the increase in cases not every treatment plant showed high viral loads but this helped in identification of hotspots in the city.
- Treatment plants with BA.2.10 or mixture of BA.2 sub lineages showed an increase in viral load and this further highlighted that there was no new variant behind the surge, even though BA.4 and BA.5 was seen in minuscule amounts in few plants. Unlike clinical samples, our study used a specialised method designed to capture the abundance and diversity of lineages in mixed community wastewater samples.
- Our comparisons with clinical genomic surveillance data from Bangalore (about 13,000 genomes) on GISAID database showed that while the general trend in Variants of Concern (VOC) remained similar, the wastewater genomic surveillance (about 300 samples) recorded a huge diversity in SARS-CoV-2 lineages dominated by the Omicron family.
- Specifically, two Omicron sub-lineages BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.12 were detected two months prior in wastewater to the first detection in clinical samples in March 2022.
- The early emergence of a variant in the wastewater implies that a significant proportion of individuals in the community are infected with that variant and shedding the virus, whereas a late detection in the clinical sample could happen due to limited or biased testing, sequencing or a large proportion of individuals were asymptomatic or home testing upon COVID-19 symptoms.
- This further suggests that clinical samples were sequenced from a selected hospital, which is not representative of the Bangalore population.
- One of the most important aspect of this study is its open access dashboard (in partnership with Precision Health Pandemic Response-Bangalore initiative) for reporting viral load, citywide positivity rates and a regular discussion with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) so that the information can be used for making policy decisions.
Wastewater surveillance improves the underestimation of infections:
- In India, tracking of COVID-19 pandemic relies heavily on testing symptomatic individuals for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA and counting the positive tests over time.
- With high population density, many infected persons are likely to be asymptomatic or oligosymptomatic (few symptoms). They are generally not tested, leading to underestimation of COVID-19 cases.
- Furthermore, infected or asymptomatic individuals start to shed the virus via the faecal route four-seven days in advance of actual testing or symptoms showing up, which means the increase in viral load in sewage water ahead of reported cases works as an early warning system and complements the routine diagnostic surveillance by capturing near real-time virus circulation at the community level.
- Using this conceptual background, the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) in collaboration with Biome Environmental Trust and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), led a longitudinal study (January-June 2022) across 28 Bangalore sewer-shed sites capturing data from more than 11 million people.
- The study posted as a preprint in the medRxiv server (preprints are yet to be peer-reviewed) investigated the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 concentrations in wastewater and COVID-19 cases reported on a daily basis.
- Each sewer-shed site/sewage treatment plant has a specific catchment area i.e., wards served by the treatment plant.
- By normalising the viral load for population size of that catchment, water inflow etc.Estimating the number of infected individuals in that catchment area which was estimated to be higher than the reported cases in the city.
- To detect viral load copies in sewage in areas where there were few or no reported cases.
- Using the exponentially weighted moving average (EWMA) algorithm (four days and seven days, after adjusting for Omicron and old SARS-CoV-2 lineage incubation period).
- The viral load estimated a higher number of cases than the number of reported cases 8-14 days in advance at the city-wide level.
- This further suggests that the viral load pattern mirrored the clinical data, and COVID-19 positive cases appeared to remain under-reported in the city.
This study on Bangalore sewage network has been instrumental in developing an early warning system where real-time genomic surveillance is the backbone in understanding the variants causing the emerging patterns in viral load in wastewater.
~Source The Hindu