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India to reconsider international military force pullback from Afghanistan

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United Nations: Within hours after terrorist suicide bombers attacked Afghanistan’s parliament on Monday, India asked the international community to reconsider pulling troops from there because of the worsening security situation.

Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji,  told the Security Council,  “Given the critical phase that the political transition has entered, and the deteriorating security situation, we feel there is a strong case for the international community to take a fresh look at the manner in which the drawdown of the international military presence in Afghanistan is being planned out.”

He cited the latest report on Afghanistan by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which said that armed clashes have increased by 45 percent compared to last year and 71 percent of the violence has been concentrated in the southern, south-eastern and eastern regions.

“These statistics only reinforces our view that terrorism, and not tribal differences or ethnic rivalries is the main source of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan,” he said.

The NATO-led coalition,  International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which had 140,000 troops at the height of the deployment, formally ended its operations in Afghanistan at the end of last year and pulled out most of its personnel.

Only about 12,000 troops have been left behind in a non-combat role to advise and continue training the Afghan military in an operation named Resolute Support Mission.

Ban’s report also said that, according to Afghan government estimates, there are 7,180 foreign fighters in the country. “It is obvious that they could not have entered Afghanistan, or continue to sustain their terror attacks without support from beyond Afghanistan’s borders,” Mukerji said in a diplomatically couched reference to Pakistan which it did not name.

At the start of the Council debate on UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), its head Nicholas Haysom also referred to the role of the foreign fighters and expressed concern that Islamic State (IS) was trying to establish a foothold in the troubled nation.

Haysom, also, called for greater regional involvement and collaboration to meet the threat from these forces.

Turning to the tattered economy of Afghanistan, Mukerji said that nation could be the “natural land bridge” connecting the economies of Central Asia and South Asia.

To enhance Kabul’s role India has taken three steps, he said: “We have indicated our willingness to join the an expanded PATTTA (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan Trade and Transit Agreement), we are working with the government of Iran to see how the Chahbahar Port in Iran can be used to provide Afghanistan with an alternate access to the sea route, and have unilaterally offered Afghanistan access to the facilities of the Integrated Check Post at Attari on the Wagah-Attari border crossing point on the India-Pakistan international border.”

(IANS)

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Cepheid to Establish Manufacturing Unit for TB Diagnostics in India

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment

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The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.
The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach. (IANS)

Expanding its footprint in India, US-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid Inc on Thursday announced its plans to establish a manufacturing unit in the country to improve Tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics.

Cepheid’s GeneXpert MTB/RIF test is a closed-cartridge-based system that is easy to operate by minimally trained staff and gives results in approximately two hours, speeding the conventional backlog that used to exist in traditional diagnostic methods.

The new manufacturing unit would produce MTB/RIF test cartridges, contribute to the government’s “Make in India” initiative and thus bringing the company’s global expertise in TB diagnostics to India, the company said in a statement.

As part of the plan, Cepheid also unveiled its latest portable, easy-to-use TB-testing system — the GeneXpert Edge — which is expected to be available in India later this year, the company said.

The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.

“Cepheid recognises the need for technological advancement and is committed to contributing significantly to India’s goal of TB eradication,” said Peter Farrell, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Operations, Cepheid.

Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB)
Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB).

“We are hopeful that GeneXpert Edge will help eliminate delays in TB diagnostics by providing definitive results within hours and facilitating fast and easy last-mile delivery even in the remote villages of India,” he added.

India has nearly one-fourth of the global TB patients and an estimated 4.8 lakh lives are lost every year due to delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment and there are above 2.5 million new cases of TB every year. The country aims to eradicate TB by 2025.

Approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010, more than 1,200 Cepheid’s GeneXpert Systems have been installed in the last two years at various Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) sites in the country and more than 2.5 million cartridges were supplied last year at various centres of Central TB Division (CTD).

Also Read: Fruit Bats Identified As Source Of Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala

Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB) and rifampicin-resistance mutations, which are markers for MDR-TB strains in under two hours.

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment.

Xpert MTB/RIF tests also have excellent negative predictive value, which allows clinicians to manage TB-negative patients more effectively to prevent unnecessary and costly respiratory isolations. (IANS)