Science & Technology: April 2021 Current Affair Notes | EduRev

Current Affairs & Hindu Analysis: Daily, Weekly & Monthly

UPSC : Science & Technology: April 2021 Current Affair Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


	
																																		
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	MEDICAL	OXYGEN	
Why in news? 
India has been facing shortage of medical 
oxygen (MO) at several locations amidst a 
massive surge in Covid-19 infections. 
About medical oxygen 
• The term ‘medical oxygen’ means high-
purity oxygen, which is used by 
hospitals and clinics in the treatment 
of various illnesses that cause oxygen 
saturation levels in the body to drop. 
• It generally comprises of minimum 
90% oxygen (O2) with 5% nitrogen and 
5% argon.  
• Medical grade oxygen is highly 
concentrated and can be obtained in 
several ways: 
o Liquifying air through a process 
called cryogenic distillation: In this 
method Liquid Medical Oxygen 
(LMO) with 99.5% purity, is 
manufactured in large plants using 
cryogenic distillation techniques to 
compress atmospheric air, feed it 
into distillation columns and get 
liquid oxygen (see infographic).  
ü This LMO is then supplied to distributors where it undergoes a process of regasification to convert the 
oxygen into gaseous form and fill it in cylinders.  
o Oxygen concentrator: It is an electrically powered medical device designed to concentrate oxygen from 
ambient air.  
ü The device takes in surrounding air, filters it through a sieve (nitrogen-absorbing zeolite membranes), 
releases the nitrogen back 
into the air, and works on 
the remaining oxygen.  
ü This oxygen, compressed 
and dispensed is 90-95 per 
cent pure.  
ü Concentrators can be 
attached with multiple 
tubes to serve two 
patients at the same time, 
but experts don’t recommend it due to risk of cross-infection.  
o Pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants: A PSA oxygen plant employs a technology that absorbs nitrogen 
from ambient air to concentrate oxygen for supply to hospitals. They help hospitals become self-sufficient 
in their requirement for medical oxygen while also reducing the burden on the national grid for supply of 
medical oxygen. 
ü They operate at near-ambient temperatures and use specific adsorbent materials (that trap a 
substance on their surface) like zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves etc., to trap oxygen at high 
pressure.  
ü The oxygen that remains 92-95 per cent pure is compressed and fed into oxygen pipelines. 
Oxygen Cylinders 
• Compressed oxygen and medical air cylinders are dedicated refillable 
containers for holding oxygen/medical gases in a high-pressure, non-
liquid state.  
• They are fitted with a valve and a pressure regulator. 
• The cylinders can be made of steel, aluminium/alloy, carbon fibre or 
other composite material and are available in various standard sizes. 
• They contain a high purity of oxygen gas and no other types of gases are 
allowed in the cylinder to prevent contamination. 
Page 2


	
																																		
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	MEDICAL	OXYGEN	
Why in news? 
India has been facing shortage of medical 
oxygen (MO) at several locations amidst a 
massive surge in Covid-19 infections. 
About medical oxygen 
• The term ‘medical oxygen’ means high-
purity oxygen, which is used by 
hospitals and clinics in the treatment 
of various illnesses that cause oxygen 
saturation levels in the body to drop. 
• It generally comprises of minimum 
90% oxygen (O2) with 5% nitrogen and 
5% argon.  
• Medical grade oxygen is highly 
concentrated and can be obtained in 
several ways: 
o Liquifying air through a process 
called cryogenic distillation: In this 
method Liquid Medical Oxygen 
(LMO) with 99.5% purity, is 
manufactured in large plants using 
cryogenic distillation techniques to 
compress atmospheric air, feed it 
into distillation columns and get 
liquid oxygen (see infographic).  
ü This LMO is then supplied to distributors where it undergoes a process of regasification to convert the 
oxygen into gaseous form and fill it in cylinders.  
o Oxygen concentrator: It is an electrically powered medical device designed to concentrate oxygen from 
ambient air.  
ü The device takes in surrounding air, filters it through a sieve (nitrogen-absorbing zeolite membranes), 
releases the nitrogen back 
into the air, and works on 
the remaining oxygen.  
ü This oxygen, compressed 
and dispensed is 90-95 per 
cent pure.  
ü Concentrators can be 
attached with multiple 
tubes to serve two 
patients at the same time, 
but experts don’t recommend it due to risk of cross-infection.  
o Pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants: A PSA oxygen plant employs a technology that absorbs nitrogen 
from ambient air to concentrate oxygen for supply to hospitals. They help hospitals become self-sufficient 
in their requirement for medical oxygen while also reducing the burden on the national grid for supply of 
medical oxygen. 
ü They operate at near-ambient temperatures and use specific adsorbent materials (that trap a 
substance on their surface) like zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves etc., to trap oxygen at high 
pressure.  
ü The oxygen that remains 92-95 per cent pure is compressed and fed into oxygen pipelines. 
Oxygen Cylinders 
• Compressed oxygen and medical air cylinders are dedicated refillable 
containers for holding oxygen/medical gases in a high-pressure, non-
liquid state.  
• They are fitted with a valve and a pressure regulator. 
• The cylinders can be made of steel, aluminium/alloy, carbon fibre or 
other composite material and are available in various standard sizes. 
• They contain a high purity of oxygen gas and no other types of gases are 
allowed in the cylinder to prevent contamination. 
	
Steps taken by Government to 
ensure adequate oxygen supply for 
treatment of COVID-19 patients 
• Setting up of EG-II: The 
Empowered Group-II (EG-II) 
headed by Secretary, 
Department for Promotion of 
Industry & Internal Trade 
(DPIIT) is mandated by Govt. of 
India to manage requisite 
supplies of medical 
equipments, drugs including 
medical oxygen across the 
country. 
• Temporarily restricting industrial usage of oxygen: Union government has restricted the use of liquid oxygen 
for non-medical purposes, with certain exemptions such as Ampoules & Vials, Pharmaceutical, Petroleum 
refineries, steel plants, nuclear energy facilities, Oxygen cylinder manufacturers, Waste water treatment 
plants, etc. 
• Facilitating inter-state movement: Centre invoked the Disaster Management Act making the district 
magistrates and senior superintendent of police personally liable to ensure unhindered inter-State movement 
of vehicles carrying medical oxygen and not restrict the supply to a particular State where the oxygen plant 
is located.  
o Also, free movement of oxygen 
tankers inter-state has been 
facilitated through MoRTH without 
registration in the other states. 
• Coordination between ministries: A 
sub- group has been formed under 
Ministry of Road Transport and 
Highways (MoRTH) with Ministry of 
Railways and transport departments of 
States to facilitate the movement of 
transport tankers for LMO.  
• Conversion of Argon and nitrogen 
tankers for oxygen transport: 
Petroleum and Safety Organisation 
(PESO) has ordered for conversion of 
argon and nitrogen tankers for use as 
oxygen tankers after appropriate 
cleaning. 
• Setting up PSA plants: PM CARES Fund 
has given in-principle approval for 
allocation of funds for installation of 
551 dedicated PSA Medical Oxygen 
Generation Plants inside public health 
facilities in the country.  
• 'Oxygen Express' trains: will be run by the Railways to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders 
across the country. 
• Free movement of oxygen tankers inter-state: has been facilitated through MoRTH without registration in 
the other states. 
o Also, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) exempted tankers and containers carrying LMO from 
user fee at toll plazas across national highways. 
Differences between Oxygen concentrators and Oxygen cylinders 
 
Oxygen concentrators Oxygen cylinders 
Purity of O 2 
supply 
90-95 per cent pure 99.5 per cent pure 
Operational 
Lifespan 
Designed for continuous 
operation and need just a 
power source to draw in 
ambient air 
Require continuous 
refilling 
Suitability for 
COVID 19 
patients 
Good enough for mild and 
moderate Covid-19 patients 
with oxygen saturation levels 
of 85% or above, but not 
advisable for ICU patients 
Can be used for 
treating all types of 
Covid-19 patients 
Rate of O 2 
supply 
Low-Moderate (5-10 litres of 
oxygen per minute) 
High (upto 25 litres of 
oxygen per minutes) 
Portability Portable and lightweight Cylinders are bulky 
and heavy 
Temperature 
requirements 
Need no special temperature 
for storing oxygen 
Need cryogenic 
tankers for storage 
and transportation of 
LMO 
Cost 
effectiveness 
More expensive than 
cylinders, but lower 
operational cost in the long 
run 
Less expensive but 
involve refilling and 
transportation costs 
	
Page 3


	
																																		
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	MEDICAL	OXYGEN	
Why in news? 
India has been facing shortage of medical 
oxygen (MO) at several locations amidst a 
massive surge in Covid-19 infections. 
About medical oxygen 
• The term ‘medical oxygen’ means high-
purity oxygen, which is used by 
hospitals and clinics in the treatment 
of various illnesses that cause oxygen 
saturation levels in the body to drop. 
• It generally comprises of minimum 
90% oxygen (O2) with 5% nitrogen and 
5% argon.  
• Medical grade oxygen is highly 
concentrated and can be obtained in 
several ways: 
o Liquifying air through a process 
called cryogenic distillation: In this 
method Liquid Medical Oxygen 
(LMO) with 99.5% purity, is 
manufactured in large plants using 
cryogenic distillation techniques to 
compress atmospheric air, feed it 
into distillation columns and get 
liquid oxygen (see infographic).  
ü This LMO is then supplied to distributors where it undergoes a process of regasification to convert the 
oxygen into gaseous form and fill it in cylinders.  
o Oxygen concentrator: It is an electrically powered medical device designed to concentrate oxygen from 
ambient air.  
ü The device takes in surrounding air, filters it through a sieve (nitrogen-absorbing zeolite membranes), 
releases the nitrogen back 
into the air, and works on 
the remaining oxygen.  
ü This oxygen, compressed 
and dispensed is 90-95 per 
cent pure.  
ü Concentrators can be 
attached with multiple 
tubes to serve two 
patients at the same time, 
but experts don’t recommend it due to risk of cross-infection.  
o Pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants: A PSA oxygen plant employs a technology that absorbs nitrogen 
from ambient air to concentrate oxygen for supply to hospitals. They help hospitals become self-sufficient 
in their requirement for medical oxygen while also reducing the burden on the national grid for supply of 
medical oxygen. 
ü They operate at near-ambient temperatures and use specific adsorbent materials (that trap a 
substance on their surface) like zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves etc., to trap oxygen at high 
pressure.  
ü The oxygen that remains 92-95 per cent pure is compressed and fed into oxygen pipelines. 
Oxygen Cylinders 
• Compressed oxygen and medical air cylinders are dedicated refillable 
containers for holding oxygen/medical gases in a high-pressure, non-
liquid state.  
• They are fitted with a valve and a pressure regulator. 
• The cylinders can be made of steel, aluminium/alloy, carbon fibre or 
other composite material and are available in various standard sizes. 
• They contain a high purity of oxygen gas and no other types of gases are 
allowed in the cylinder to prevent contamination. 
	
Steps taken by Government to 
ensure adequate oxygen supply for 
treatment of COVID-19 patients 
• Setting up of EG-II: The 
Empowered Group-II (EG-II) 
headed by Secretary, 
Department for Promotion of 
Industry & Internal Trade 
(DPIIT) is mandated by Govt. of 
India to manage requisite 
supplies of medical 
equipments, drugs including 
medical oxygen across the 
country. 
• Temporarily restricting industrial usage of oxygen: Union government has restricted the use of liquid oxygen 
for non-medical purposes, with certain exemptions such as Ampoules & Vials, Pharmaceutical, Petroleum 
refineries, steel plants, nuclear energy facilities, Oxygen cylinder manufacturers, Waste water treatment 
plants, etc. 
• Facilitating inter-state movement: Centre invoked the Disaster Management Act making the district 
magistrates and senior superintendent of police personally liable to ensure unhindered inter-State movement 
of vehicles carrying medical oxygen and not restrict the supply to a particular State where the oxygen plant 
is located.  
o Also, free movement of oxygen 
tankers inter-state has been 
facilitated through MoRTH without 
registration in the other states. 
• Coordination between ministries: A 
sub- group has been formed under 
Ministry of Road Transport and 
Highways (MoRTH) with Ministry of 
Railways and transport departments of 
States to facilitate the movement of 
transport tankers for LMO.  
• Conversion of Argon and nitrogen 
tankers for oxygen transport: 
Petroleum and Safety Organisation 
(PESO) has ordered for conversion of 
argon and nitrogen tankers for use as 
oxygen tankers after appropriate 
cleaning. 
• Setting up PSA plants: PM CARES Fund 
has given in-principle approval for 
allocation of funds for installation of 
551 dedicated PSA Medical Oxygen 
Generation Plants inside public health 
facilities in the country.  
• 'Oxygen Express' trains: will be run by the Railways to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders 
across the country. 
• Free movement of oxygen tankers inter-state: has been facilitated through MoRTH without registration in 
the other states. 
o Also, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) exempted tankers and containers carrying LMO from 
user fee at toll plazas across national highways. 
Differences between Oxygen concentrators and Oxygen cylinders 
 
Oxygen concentrators Oxygen cylinders 
Purity of O 2 
supply 
90-95 per cent pure 99.5 per cent pure 
Operational 
Lifespan 
Designed for continuous 
operation and need just a 
power source to draw in 
ambient air 
Require continuous 
refilling 
Suitability for 
COVID 19 
patients 
Good enough for mild and 
moderate Covid-19 patients 
with oxygen saturation levels 
of 85% or above, but not 
advisable for ICU patients 
Can be used for 
treating all types of 
Covid-19 patients 
Rate of O 2 
supply 
Low-Moderate (5-10 litres of 
oxygen per minute) 
High (upto 25 litres of 
oxygen per minutes) 
Portability Portable and lightweight Cylinders are bulky 
and heavy 
Temperature 
requirements 
Need no special temperature 
for storing oxygen 
Need cryogenic 
tankers for storage 
and transportation of 
LMO 
Cost 
effectiveness 
More expensive than 
cylinders, but lower 
operational cost in the long 
run 
Less expensive but 
involve refilling and 
transportation costs 
	
	
• Other steps: State wise Mapping of cylinders, air-lifting empty oxygen tankers to Oxygen suppliers, for import 
of 50,000 MT of medical oxygen, placing of orders for purchase of another one lakh oxygen cylinders by 
MoHFW etc. 
Conclusion 
India has sufficient daily production capacity and stock to fulfill the demand. The need of the hour is to optimise 
supply chains to ensure round the clock oxygen availability to worst affected states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, 
Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, etc. This will require proper assessment and analysis oxygen 
demand and procurement system. Also, State authorities and hospitals need to make rational use of medical 
oxygen and ensure that there is no wastage of oxygen.  
7.2.	RARE	DISEASES	
Why in news?  
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare 
approved the National Policy for Rare 
Diseases(NPRD) 2021. 
Background 
• Ministry of Health and Family 
Welfare formulated a National 
Policy for Treatment of Rare 
Diseases (NPTRD) in 2017 however, 
implementation of the policy faced 
certain challenges including the 
issue of cost effectiveness of 
supporting such health 
interventions. 
• An Expert Committee was 
constituted by Ministry in 2018 to 
review the NPTRD, 2017. 
• Different stakeholders have been 
demanding for a comprehensive 
policy for prevention and 
management of rare diseases owing 
to the numerous challenges in 
dealing with them.  
About Rare Diseases  
• There is no universal or standard 
definition of rare disease but 
broadly defined as diseases that infrequently occur in a population, and three indicators are used to identify— 
the total number of people with the disease, its prevalence, and the availability/non-availability of treatment 
options.  
• WHO defines rare disease as often debilitating lifelong disease or disorder with a prevalence of less than 10 
per 10,000 people (or 1 per 1000 population). However, different countries have their own definitions to suit 
their specific requirements and in context of their own population, health care system and resources.  
• The term “Orphan diseases” is often used for these and drugs to treat them are called “Orphan drugs”. 
• New diseases are discovered each year and added to the databases such as Orphanet database maintained 
by the European Union that is freely accessible to everyone. 
Issues with rare diseases in India 
• No standard definition in India: The lack of epidemiological data on incidence and prevalence of rare diseases 
impedes understanding of the extent of the burden of rare diseases and development of a definition. 
Page 4


	
																																		
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	MEDICAL	OXYGEN	
Why in news? 
India has been facing shortage of medical 
oxygen (MO) at several locations amidst a 
massive surge in Covid-19 infections. 
About medical oxygen 
• The term ‘medical oxygen’ means high-
purity oxygen, which is used by 
hospitals and clinics in the treatment 
of various illnesses that cause oxygen 
saturation levels in the body to drop. 
• It generally comprises of minimum 
90% oxygen (O2) with 5% nitrogen and 
5% argon.  
• Medical grade oxygen is highly 
concentrated and can be obtained in 
several ways: 
o Liquifying air through a process 
called cryogenic distillation: In this 
method Liquid Medical Oxygen 
(LMO) with 99.5% purity, is 
manufactured in large plants using 
cryogenic distillation techniques to 
compress atmospheric air, feed it 
into distillation columns and get 
liquid oxygen (see infographic).  
ü This LMO is then supplied to distributors where it undergoes a process of regasification to convert the 
oxygen into gaseous form and fill it in cylinders.  
o Oxygen concentrator: It is an electrically powered medical device designed to concentrate oxygen from 
ambient air.  
ü The device takes in surrounding air, filters it through a sieve (nitrogen-absorbing zeolite membranes), 
releases the nitrogen back 
into the air, and works on 
the remaining oxygen.  
ü This oxygen, compressed 
and dispensed is 90-95 per 
cent pure.  
ü Concentrators can be 
attached with multiple 
tubes to serve two 
patients at the same time, 
but experts don’t recommend it due to risk of cross-infection.  
o Pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants: A PSA oxygen plant employs a technology that absorbs nitrogen 
from ambient air to concentrate oxygen for supply to hospitals. They help hospitals become self-sufficient 
in their requirement for medical oxygen while also reducing the burden on the national grid for supply of 
medical oxygen. 
ü They operate at near-ambient temperatures and use specific adsorbent materials (that trap a 
substance on their surface) like zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves etc., to trap oxygen at high 
pressure.  
ü The oxygen that remains 92-95 per cent pure is compressed and fed into oxygen pipelines. 
Oxygen Cylinders 
• Compressed oxygen and medical air cylinders are dedicated refillable 
containers for holding oxygen/medical gases in a high-pressure, non-
liquid state.  
• They are fitted with a valve and a pressure regulator. 
• The cylinders can be made of steel, aluminium/alloy, carbon fibre or 
other composite material and are available in various standard sizes. 
• They contain a high purity of oxygen gas and no other types of gases are 
allowed in the cylinder to prevent contamination. 
	
Steps taken by Government to 
ensure adequate oxygen supply for 
treatment of COVID-19 patients 
• Setting up of EG-II: The 
Empowered Group-II (EG-II) 
headed by Secretary, 
Department for Promotion of 
Industry & Internal Trade 
(DPIIT) is mandated by Govt. of 
India to manage requisite 
supplies of medical 
equipments, drugs including 
medical oxygen across the 
country. 
• Temporarily restricting industrial usage of oxygen: Union government has restricted the use of liquid oxygen 
for non-medical purposes, with certain exemptions such as Ampoules & Vials, Pharmaceutical, Petroleum 
refineries, steel plants, nuclear energy facilities, Oxygen cylinder manufacturers, Waste water treatment 
plants, etc. 
• Facilitating inter-state movement: Centre invoked the Disaster Management Act making the district 
magistrates and senior superintendent of police personally liable to ensure unhindered inter-State movement 
of vehicles carrying medical oxygen and not restrict the supply to a particular State where the oxygen plant 
is located.  
o Also, free movement of oxygen 
tankers inter-state has been 
facilitated through MoRTH without 
registration in the other states. 
• Coordination between ministries: A 
sub- group has been formed under 
Ministry of Road Transport and 
Highways (MoRTH) with Ministry of 
Railways and transport departments of 
States to facilitate the movement of 
transport tankers for LMO.  
• Conversion of Argon and nitrogen 
tankers for oxygen transport: 
Petroleum and Safety Organisation 
(PESO) has ordered for conversion of 
argon and nitrogen tankers for use as 
oxygen tankers after appropriate 
cleaning. 
• Setting up PSA plants: PM CARES Fund 
has given in-principle approval for 
allocation of funds for installation of 
551 dedicated PSA Medical Oxygen 
Generation Plants inside public health 
facilities in the country.  
• 'Oxygen Express' trains: will be run by the Railways to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders 
across the country. 
• Free movement of oxygen tankers inter-state: has been facilitated through MoRTH without registration in 
the other states. 
o Also, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) exempted tankers and containers carrying LMO from 
user fee at toll plazas across national highways. 
Differences between Oxygen concentrators and Oxygen cylinders 
 
Oxygen concentrators Oxygen cylinders 
Purity of O 2 
supply 
90-95 per cent pure 99.5 per cent pure 
Operational 
Lifespan 
Designed for continuous 
operation and need just a 
power source to draw in 
ambient air 
Require continuous 
refilling 
Suitability for 
COVID 19 
patients 
Good enough for mild and 
moderate Covid-19 patients 
with oxygen saturation levels 
of 85% or above, but not 
advisable for ICU patients 
Can be used for 
treating all types of 
Covid-19 patients 
Rate of O 2 
supply 
Low-Moderate (5-10 litres of 
oxygen per minute) 
High (upto 25 litres of 
oxygen per minutes) 
Portability Portable and lightweight Cylinders are bulky 
and heavy 
Temperature 
requirements 
Need no special temperature 
for storing oxygen 
Need cryogenic 
tankers for storage 
and transportation of 
LMO 
Cost 
effectiveness 
More expensive than 
cylinders, but lower 
operational cost in the long 
run 
Less expensive but 
involve refilling and 
transportation costs 
	
	
• Other steps: State wise Mapping of cylinders, air-lifting empty oxygen tankers to Oxygen suppliers, for import 
of 50,000 MT of medical oxygen, placing of orders for purchase of another one lakh oxygen cylinders by 
MoHFW etc. 
Conclusion 
India has sufficient daily production capacity and stock to fulfill the demand. The need of the hour is to optimise 
supply chains to ensure round the clock oxygen availability to worst affected states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, 
Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, etc. This will require proper assessment and analysis oxygen 
demand and procurement system. Also, State authorities and hospitals need to make rational use of medical 
oxygen and ensure that there is no wastage of oxygen.  
7.2.	RARE	DISEASES	
Why in news?  
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare 
approved the National Policy for Rare 
Diseases(NPRD) 2021. 
Background 
• Ministry of Health and Family 
Welfare formulated a National 
Policy for Treatment of Rare 
Diseases (NPTRD) in 2017 however, 
implementation of the policy faced 
certain challenges including the 
issue of cost effectiveness of 
supporting such health 
interventions. 
• An Expert Committee was 
constituted by Ministry in 2018 to 
review the NPTRD, 2017. 
• Different stakeholders have been 
demanding for a comprehensive 
policy for prevention and 
management of rare diseases owing 
to the numerous challenges in 
dealing with them.  
About Rare Diseases  
• There is no universal or standard 
definition of rare disease but 
broadly defined as diseases that infrequently occur in a population, and three indicators are used to identify— 
the total number of people with the disease, its prevalence, and the availability/non-availability of treatment 
options.  
• WHO defines rare disease as often debilitating lifelong disease or disorder with a prevalence of less than 10 
per 10,000 people (or 1 per 1000 population). However, different countries have their own definitions to suit 
their specific requirements and in context of their own population, health care system and resources.  
• The term “Orphan diseases” is often used for these and drugs to treat them are called “Orphan drugs”. 
• New diseases are discovered each year and added to the databases such as Orphanet database maintained 
by the European Union that is freely accessible to everyone. 
Issues with rare diseases in India 
• No standard definition in India: The lack of epidemiological data on incidence and prevalence of rare diseases 
impedes understanding of the extent of the burden of rare diseases and development of a definition. 
	
• Early diagnosis of rare diseases is a challenge: owing to multiple factors that include lack of awareness among 
public as well as primary care physicians, lack of adequate screening and diagnostic facilities.  
• Unavailability of treatment: The field of rare diseases is complex 
and heterogeneous. There is relatively little known about the 
pathophysiology of these diseases. Due to this, very few 
pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing drugs for rare 
diseases globally and there are no domestic manufacturers in 
India except for Food for Special Medical Purposes(FSMP) for 
small molecule inborn errors of metabolism.  
o In general, government provides free supportive treatment 
to patients with rare diseases where one is available in India. 
For instance, free blood transfusions to a Thalassaemic child. 
o India is yet to have a legislation on the development of 
Orphan Drugs. 
• Prohibitive cost of treatment: As the patient pool is small, they 
do not constitute a significant market for drug manufacturers to 
develop drugs thus increasing their cost. 
o It is estimated that for a child weighing 10 kg, the annual cost 
of treatment for some rare diseases, may vary from Rupees 
10 lakh to more than 1 crore per year with treatment being lifelong and drug dose and cost, increasing 
with age and weight.  
• Challenges in research and development as the patient pool is very small and diseases are chronic in nature 
which results in skewed or partial clinical explanation.  
• Macroeconomic allocation dilemma in resource constrained settings: Interventions that address health 
problems of a much larger number of persons by allocating a relatively smaller amount are prioritized over 
others such as funding treatment of rare diseases where much greater resources will be required for 
addressing health problems of a far smaller number of persons.  
Key provisions of the Policy 
Public Health and hospitals being a State subject, the Central 
Government through the NPRD, would encourage & support the States 
in their endeavour towards screening and prevention of rare diseases. 
Major provisions of the policy include:  
• Aim of the policy: 
o To lower the incidence and prevalence of rare diseases based 
on an integrated and comprehensive preventive strategy  
o To enable access to affordable health care to patients of rare 
diseases 
o To increase focus on indigenous research and local production 
of medicines. 
• Categorization of rare diseases in 3 groups: 
o Group 1: Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment. 
o Group 2: Those requiring long term or lifelong treatment. 
o Group 3: Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make optimal patient 
selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy. 
• Financial Support for treatment : 
o The assistance of Rs 20 lakh to be provided by the Central government to patients suffering from rare 
diseases under Group1 under the umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi(RAN). 
ü RAN Scheme provides for financial assistance to patients, living below poverty line (BPL) and who are 
suffering from major life threatening diseases, to receive medical treatment at any of the super 
specialty Government hospitals / institutes. 
o Beneficiaries for such financial assistance however would not be limited to BPL families, but extended 
to about 40% of the population, who are eligible as per norms of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, for 
their treatment in Government tertiary hospitals only. 
Page 5


	
																																		
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	MEDICAL	OXYGEN	
Why in news? 
India has been facing shortage of medical 
oxygen (MO) at several locations amidst a 
massive surge in Covid-19 infections. 
About medical oxygen 
• The term ‘medical oxygen’ means high-
purity oxygen, which is used by 
hospitals and clinics in the treatment 
of various illnesses that cause oxygen 
saturation levels in the body to drop. 
• It generally comprises of minimum 
90% oxygen (O2) with 5% nitrogen and 
5% argon.  
• Medical grade oxygen is highly 
concentrated and can be obtained in 
several ways: 
o Liquifying air through a process 
called cryogenic distillation: In this 
method Liquid Medical Oxygen 
(LMO) with 99.5% purity, is 
manufactured in large plants using 
cryogenic distillation techniques to 
compress atmospheric air, feed it 
into distillation columns and get 
liquid oxygen (see infographic).  
ü This LMO is then supplied to distributors where it undergoes a process of regasification to convert the 
oxygen into gaseous form and fill it in cylinders.  
o Oxygen concentrator: It is an electrically powered medical device designed to concentrate oxygen from 
ambient air.  
ü The device takes in surrounding air, filters it through a sieve (nitrogen-absorbing zeolite membranes), 
releases the nitrogen back 
into the air, and works on 
the remaining oxygen.  
ü This oxygen, compressed 
and dispensed is 90-95 per 
cent pure.  
ü Concentrators can be 
attached with multiple 
tubes to serve two 
patients at the same time, 
but experts don’t recommend it due to risk of cross-infection.  
o Pressure swing absorption (PSA) plants: A PSA oxygen plant employs a technology that absorbs nitrogen 
from ambient air to concentrate oxygen for supply to hospitals. They help hospitals become self-sufficient 
in their requirement for medical oxygen while also reducing the burden on the national grid for supply of 
medical oxygen. 
ü They operate at near-ambient temperatures and use specific adsorbent materials (that trap a 
substance on their surface) like zeolites, activated carbon, molecular sieves etc., to trap oxygen at high 
pressure.  
ü The oxygen that remains 92-95 per cent pure is compressed and fed into oxygen pipelines. 
Oxygen Cylinders 
• Compressed oxygen and medical air cylinders are dedicated refillable 
containers for holding oxygen/medical gases in a high-pressure, non-
liquid state.  
• They are fitted with a valve and a pressure regulator. 
• The cylinders can be made of steel, aluminium/alloy, carbon fibre or 
other composite material and are available in various standard sizes. 
• They contain a high purity of oxygen gas and no other types of gases are 
allowed in the cylinder to prevent contamination. 
	
Steps taken by Government to 
ensure adequate oxygen supply for 
treatment of COVID-19 patients 
• Setting up of EG-II: The 
Empowered Group-II (EG-II) 
headed by Secretary, 
Department for Promotion of 
Industry & Internal Trade 
(DPIIT) is mandated by Govt. of 
India to manage requisite 
supplies of medical 
equipments, drugs including 
medical oxygen across the 
country. 
• Temporarily restricting industrial usage of oxygen: Union government has restricted the use of liquid oxygen 
for non-medical purposes, with certain exemptions such as Ampoules & Vials, Pharmaceutical, Petroleum 
refineries, steel plants, nuclear energy facilities, Oxygen cylinder manufacturers, Waste water treatment 
plants, etc. 
• Facilitating inter-state movement: Centre invoked the Disaster Management Act making the district 
magistrates and senior superintendent of police personally liable to ensure unhindered inter-State movement 
of vehicles carrying medical oxygen and not restrict the supply to a particular State where the oxygen plant 
is located.  
o Also, free movement of oxygen 
tankers inter-state has been 
facilitated through MoRTH without 
registration in the other states. 
• Coordination between ministries: A 
sub- group has been formed under 
Ministry of Road Transport and 
Highways (MoRTH) with Ministry of 
Railways and transport departments of 
States to facilitate the movement of 
transport tankers for LMO.  
• Conversion of Argon and nitrogen 
tankers for oxygen transport: 
Petroleum and Safety Organisation 
(PESO) has ordered for conversion of 
argon and nitrogen tankers for use as 
oxygen tankers after appropriate 
cleaning. 
• Setting up PSA plants: PM CARES Fund 
has given in-principle approval for 
allocation of funds for installation of 
551 dedicated PSA Medical Oxygen 
Generation Plants inside public health 
facilities in the country.  
• 'Oxygen Express' trains: will be run by the Railways to transport liquid medical oxygen and oxygen cylinders 
across the country. 
• Free movement of oxygen tankers inter-state: has been facilitated through MoRTH without registration in 
the other states. 
o Also, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) exempted tankers and containers carrying LMO from 
user fee at toll plazas across national highways. 
Differences between Oxygen concentrators and Oxygen cylinders 
 
Oxygen concentrators Oxygen cylinders 
Purity of O 2 
supply 
90-95 per cent pure 99.5 per cent pure 
Operational 
Lifespan 
Designed for continuous 
operation and need just a 
power source to draw in 
ambient air 
Require continuous 
refilling 
Suitability for 
COVID 19 
patients 
Good enough for mild and 
moderate Covid-19 patients 
with oxygen saturation levels 
of 85% or above, but not 
advisable for ICU patients 
Can be used for 
treating all types of 
Covid-19 patients 
Rate of O 2 
supply 
Low-Moderate (5-10 litres of 
oxygen per minute) 
High (upto 25 litres of 
oxygen per minutes) 
Portability Portable and lightweight Cylinders are bulky 
and heavy 
Temperature 
requirements 
Need no special temperature 
for storing oxygen 
Need cryogenic 
tankers for storage 
and transportation of 
LMO 
Cost 
effectiveness 
More expensive than 
cylinders, but lower 
operational cost in the long 
run 
Less expensive but 
involve refilling and 
transportation costs 
	
	
• Other steps: State wise Mapping of cylinders, air-lifting empty oxygen tankers to Oxygen suppliers, for import 
of 50,000 MT of medical oxygen, placing of orders for purchase of another one lakh oxygen cylinders by 
MoHFW etc. 
Conclusion 
India has sufficient daily production capacity and stock to fulfill the demand. The need of the hour is to optimise 
supply chains to ensure round the clock oxygen availability to worst affected states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, 
Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, etc. This will require proper assessment and analysis oxygen 
demand and procurement system. Also, State authorities and hospitals need to make rational use of medical 
oxygen and ensure that there is no wastage of oxygen.  
7.2.	RARE	DISEASES	
Why in news?  
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare 
approved the National Policy for Rare 
Diseases(NPRD) 2021. 
Background 
• Ministry of Health and Family 
Welfare formulated a National 
Policy for Treatment of Rare 
Diseases (NPTRD) in 2017 however, 
implementation of the policy faced 
certain challenges including the 
issue of cost effectiveness of 
supporting such health 
interventions. 
• An Expert Committee was 
constituted by Ministry in 2018 to 
review the NPTRD, 2017. 
• Different stakeholders have been 
demanding for a comprehensive 
policy for prevention and 
management of rare diseases owing 
to the numerous challenges in 
dealing with them.  
About Rare Diseases  
• There is no universal or standard 
definition of rare disease but 
broadly defined as diseases that infrequently occur in a population, and three indicators are used to identify— 
the total number of people with the disease, its prevalence, and the availability/non-availability of treatment 
options.  
• WHO defines rare disease as often debilitating lifelong disease or disorder with a prevalence of less than 10 
per 10,000 people (or 1 per 1000 population). However, different countries have their own definitions to suit 
their specific requirements and in context of their own population, health care system and resources.  
• The term “Orphan diseases” is often used for these and drugs to treat them are called “Orphan drugs”. 
• New diseases are discovered each year and added to the databases such as Orphanet database maintained 
by the European Union that is freely accessible to everyone. 
Issues with rare diseases in India 
• No standard definition in India: The lack of epidemiological data on incidence and prevalence of rare diseases 
impedes understanding of the extent of the burden of rare diseases and development of a definition. 
	
• Early diagnosis of rare diseases is a challenge: owing to multiple factors that include lack of awareness among 
public as well as primary care physicians, lack of adequate screening and diagnostic facilities.  
• Unavailability of treatment: The field of rare diseases is complex 
and heterogeneous. There is relatively little known about the 
pathophysiology of these diseases. Due to this, very few 
pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing drugs for rare 
diseases globally and there are no domestic manufacturers in 
India except for Food for Special Medical Purposes(FSMP) for 
small molecule inborn errors of metabolism.  
o In general, government provides free supportive treatment 
to patients with rare diseases where one is available in India. 
For instance, free blood transfusions to a Thalassaemic child. 
o India is yet to have a legislation on the development of 
Orphan Drugs. 
• Prohibitive cost of treatment: As the patient pool is small, they 
do not constitute a significant market for drug manufacturers to 
develop drugs thus increasing their cost. 
o It is estimated that for a child weighing 10 kg, the annual cost 
of treatment for some rare diseases, may vary from Rupees 
10 lakh to more than 1 crore per year with treatment being lifelong and drug dose and cost, increasing 
with age and weight.  
• Challenges in research and development as the patient pool is very small and diseases are chronic in nature 
which results in skewed or partial clinical explanation.  
• Macroeconomic allocation dilemma in resource constrained settings: Interventions that address health 
problems of a much larger number of persons by allocating a relatively smaller amount are prioritized over 
others such as funding treatment of rare diseases where much greater resources will be required for 
addressing health problems of a far smaller number of persons.  
Key provisions of the Policy 
Public Health and hospitals being a State subject, the Central 
Government through the NPRD, would encourage & support the States 
in their endeavour towards screening and prevention of rare diseases. 
Major provisions of the policy include:  
• Aim of the policy: 
o To lower the incidence and prevalence of rare diseases based 
on an integrated and comprehensive preventive strategy  
o To enable access to affordable health care to patients of rare 
diseases 
o To increase focus on indigenous research and local production 
of medicines. 
• Categorization of rare diseases in 3 groups: 
o Group 1: Disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment. 
o Group 2: Those requiring long term or lifelong treatment. 
o Group 3: Diseases for which definitive treatment is available but challenges are to make optimal patient 
selection for benefit, very high cost and lifelong therapy. 
• Financial Support for treatment : 
o The assistance of Rs 20 lakh to be provided by the Central government to patients suffering from rare 
diseases under Group1 under the umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi(RAN). 
ü RAN Scheme provides for financial assistance to patients, living below poverty line (BPL) and who are 
suffering from major life threatening diseases, to receive medical treatment at any of the super 
specialty Government hospitals / institutes. 
o Beneficiaries for such financial assistance however would not be limited to BPL families, but extended 
to about 40% of the population, who are eligible as per norms of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, for 
their treatment in Government tertiary hospitals only. 
	
o For diseases listed under Group 2, State Governments can consider supporting patients of such rare 
diseases with special diets or hormonal supplements or other relatively low cost interventions. 
• Alternate Funding mechanism: Provision for voluntary crowd-funding for treatment through setting up a 
digital platform for voluntary individual and corporate donors to contribute to the treatment cost of patients 
of rare diseases especially those under Group 3.   
• Centres of Excellence and Nidan Kendras:  
o Certain medical institutes will be certified as Centre of Excellence and will be provided one-time financial 
support of up to Rs. 5 crore for upgradation of screening and diagnostics facilities.  
o Nidan Kendras set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under Unique Methods of Management and 
treatment of Inherited Disorders (UMMID) project will be performing screening, genetic testing and 
counseling for rare diseases. 
ü Currently Nidan Kendras are supporting aspirational districts for screening of rare diseases. 
• Creation of Database on rare diseases : A national hospital-based registry of rare diseases will be created by 
ICMR to ensure adequate data and comprehensive definitions of such diseases are available for those 
interested in research and development. 
• Increasing affordability of drug related to rare diseases : PSUs would be encouraged for local manufacturing 
of drugs for rare diseases.  
• Research & Development: Creation of an integrated research pipeline to start the development of new drugs, 
repurposing the drugs and use of biosimilars (the reference medicine). 
• Increase awareness amongst all the levels of health care personnel as well as general public about the 
prevalence of such diseases and prevention measures.  
 
 
7.3.	REDUCING	RISK	OF	ZOONOSES	IN	FOOD	PRODUCTION	
Why in news? 
The guidelines to reduce the risk of 
transmission of zoonotic pathogens to 
humans in food production and marketing 
chains has been prepared by the World 
Health Organisation (WHO), World 
organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and 
United Nations Environment Programme 
(UNEP). 
What is zoonosis? 
• A zoonosis is an infectious disease that jumps from a non-human animal to humans. (The transfer of pathogen 
from animal to human has been explained in the infographic.) 
World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE): 
• It is an international organisation with 182 Member Countries, 
which have given it a mandate to improve animal health and 
welfare throughout the world. 
• It bases its activities on four pillars namely standard, 
transparency, expertise and solidarity. 
• It works to achieve the transparency of the global animal health 
situation including diseases transmissible to humans, to update 
and publish disease prevention and control methods, to ensure 
the sanitary safety of world trade in animals and their products 
and to strengthen national animal health systems. 
Read More
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