The HINDU Notes – 20th April 2019 - VISION

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

The HINDU Notes – 20th April 2019

📰 China says ties with India insulated from differences on Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese foreign minister and state councillor Wang Yi says both nations were limiting the threshold of their differences so that overall development of ties remained unhampered.

•China on Friday said its ties with India had a “bright future” and they were preparing for a summit between their leaders as a follow-up to last year’s two-day across-the board Wuhan informal summit between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

•At a press conference on a three-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation that begins on May 25, Chinese foreign minister and state councillor Wang Yi was emphatic that ties between India and China were insulated from their differences on the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

•Thirty-seven heads of state or heads of government, including leaders from Russia, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as high level representatives from France, Germany, UK, Spain the European Union and Republic of Korea, will attend the mega event.

•Mr. Wang said, “The two leaders [President Xi and Prime Minister Modi] had a very successful meeting in Wuhan. Particularly, they established mutual trust and they jointly planned for the future of improvement and the strengthening of the China-India relationship. After the Wuhan summit, we see progress in all areas of cooperation.” 

•Mr. Wang pointed out that India and China were limiting the threshold of their differences so that overall development of ties remained unhampered. “China and India are two major countries and neighbouring countries to each other. It is natural for us to have differences...I remember Prime Minister Modi has mentioned many times that [we] cannot escalate our differences into disputes,” he said.

•“The Indian side wants to put our differences at a proper level in order not to interfere in the proper development of our relations. This is in fundamental interest of the people of two countries and China is happy to see [that],” he noted.

•China, he said, understood India’s “concerns” about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), but counselled New Delhi not to view the project—a flagship of the BRI—as an infringement of its “sovereignty”.

•Mr. Wang said, “One of our fundamental differences is how to look at the Belt and Road Initiative. The Indian side has their concerns. We understand that and that’s why we stated clearly on various occasions that the Belt and Road Initiative, including the CPEC, is only an economic initiative.” CPEC should be de-linked from a territorial dispute that was rooted in history.

India’s stance on CPEC

•India has slammed CPEC, stating that it was an affront to its sovereignty as it passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

•Mr. Wang contended that the CPEC did not “target any third country” and had “nothing to do with sovereign and territorial dispute left over from history between the two countries. 

•He said, “Of course, India has its basic position on these disputes. Our cooperation will not undermine any party’s position on those issues. Those issues left over from the history must be separated from our efforts in this area. I think such cooperation will not undermine the basic position on sovereignty and territorial integrity and at the same time will provide you more opportunity of development and help India in modernisation endeavour. I believe this is a good option and good choice for India.”

•The Chinese top diplomat rubbished accusations that BRI projects were “debt traps”. Instead, he said, the mega-connectivity project to revive the ancient Silk Road had generated benefits. The total trade volume between China and participating countries had surpassed 6 trillion dollars and investments had scaled 80 billion dollars, generating 300,000 jobs, he pointed out.

•In a veiled reference to the United States, he said, “Some country when it cannot succeed, it doesn’t want other countries to succeed either. And this sour grape mentality is in no one’s benefit.”

•An “advisory council”, comprising eminent international personalities, had been formed to impart “high quality” to projects under the BRI banner. “To my knowledge, the advisory council will submit a policy suggestion report to the second forum, which contains many good suggestions. We welcome more constructive voices to the Belt and Road,” Mr. Wang observed. 

📰 Meet between Afghan govt., Taliban postponed

Militants object to long list of officials

•Hopes for a breakthrough in a push to end Afghanistan’s gruelling conflict suffered a major setback on Friday after a key summit between the Taliban and Afghan officials was indefinitely postponed.

•The so-called intra-Afghan dialogue, due to take place in Doha this weekend, fell apart at the last minute in a row over the large number of delegates Kabul wanted to send.

•Washington, which is leading an effort to end the war, signalled its disappointment and urged both sides to return to the table. Sultan Barakat, who heads the group that was to host the event, said in a statement the postponement was “necessary to build further consensus as to who should participate”. President Ashraf Ghani’s administration had on Tuesday announced a list of 250 people from all walks of Afghan life, including government figures, who it wanted to send to Doha.

•But the Taliban poured scorn on the lengthy list, saying the conference is “not an invitation to some wedding or other party at a hotel in Kabul”.

•Kabul blamed the Qatari government for the summit’s derailment. In a statement, the presidential palace said Qatar had rejected the long list of delegates and suggested a shorter one which was “not acceptable”.

•The Taliban complained on Friday that it was “not fair” Mr. Ghani had wanted to send such a large delegation, and that “negotiations with the powerless Kabul administration is a waste of time“.

📰 Chemists and druggists are passé; from now, all will be pharmacies

Step is in keeping with international practice: Ministry

•First coined in 1945, the words ‘chemist’ and ‘druggist’ are headed for a change, with the Union Health Ministry replacing them with ‘pharmacy’.

•Besides being a long-standing demand of the industry, a senior health official explained that the phrase ‘chemists and druggists’ was coined over seven decades ago, is quite old, and has lost its relevance in the current scenario.

•“At present, the word ‘drug’ is looked upon as more clandestine, and as addiction to chemicals, and thus it’s not suitable while referring to a professional pharmacist,” he added.

•The matter was deliberated upon by the Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB), after repeated requests were made to amend the Rule 65(15)(b) and Rule 65(15)(c) so that medical shops can be called a ‘pharmacy’.

•After being cleared by DTAB, “This is now also in concurrence with the international practice of calling a medical shop selling medicines by this name [‘pharmacy’] and to also provide an identity and sense of value to the practising pharmacist at the outlets,” noted the Board.

•Meanwhile, the change was deliberated and recommended by the 55th Drug Consultative Committee meeting held in January and March this year.

•“This will definitely give the profession better recognition. We always had a problem with the word ‘druggists’ as the meaning is negative. We welcome this change the government has made,” said Kailash Gupta of the All India Chemists and Distributors Federation.

•Meanwhile, according to the earlier Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, the description ‘Chemists and Druggists’ was to be displayed by those licensees who employ the services of a registered pharmacist but who do not maintain a ‘pharmacy’ for compounding (preparing a drug specifically for a buyer, based on a prescription from his or her doctor). The pharmacist mixes different ingredients together to create the individualised medication.

•“However, in the current scenario, the compounding of medicines by registered pharmacists hardly exists due to a capable pharma industry in place in the country,” noted the DTAB.

📰 Ganga has higher proportion of antibacterial agents: study

‘The isolated components hold great potential as an antibacterial pharmaceutical’

•A study commissioned by the Union Water Resources Ministry to probe the “unique properties” of the Ganga found that the river water contains a significantly higher proportion of organisms with antibacterial properties.

•Other Indian rivers also contain these organisms but the Ganga — particularly in its upper Himalayan stretches — has more of them, the study suggests.

•The study, ‘Assessment of Water Quality and Sediment To Understand Special Properties of River Ganga,’ began in 2016 and was conducted by the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering and Research Institute (NEERI), a CSIR lab. The NEERI team was tasked with assessing the water quality for “radiological, microbiological and biological” parameters in the Bhagirathi (a feeder river of the Ganga) and the Ganga at 20 sampling stations.

•As part of the assessment, five pathogenic species of bacteria (Escherichia, Enterobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio) were selected and isolated from the Ganga, Yamuna and the Narmada and their numbers compared with the bacteriophages present in the river water. Because bacteriophages are a kind of virus that kill bacteria, they are frequently found in proximity to each other.

•“In the river Ganga, the bacteriophages were detected to be approximately 3 times more in proportion than bacterial isolates,” the study’s authors wrote in the report’s synopsis analysed by The Hindu.

•Though it isn’t evident that there are bacteriophage species unique to the Ganga, the study suggests there are many more of them in the Ganga than in other rivers. Thus, samples drawn from the Ganga contained almost 1,100 kinds of bacteriophage, and proportionally there were less than 200 species detected in the samples obtained from the Yamuna and the Narmada.

•However, these antibacterial properties varied widely along the length of the river. For instance, the stretch from Gomukh to Tehri had 33% more bacteriophage isolates than from Mana to Haridwar, and Bijnor to Varanasi. In the stretch from Patna to Gangasagar, the bacteriophages were only 60% of that in the Gomukh to Tehri stretch.

•That the Ganga may contain unique microbial life, which makes it relatively more resilient to putrefaction, was suggested by British colonial scientists about 200 years ago. “This study was commissioned to test these properties using the latest scientific techniques and knowledge,” said Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director-General, National Mission for Clean Ganga.

•“The super-phage isolated from Ganga and decoded for its lysine gene and cloned to produce lysine protein at IIT Roorkee holds great potential as an antibacterial pharmaceutical,” the report asserts.

📰 SC to hear petition to end write-offs

Calls to ban loan waivers in manifestos

•The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a petition to restrain banks from writing off non-performing assets.

•The petition, filed by Supreme Court advocate Reena N. Singh, is listed before a Bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and S. Abdul Nazeer.

For a true picture

•The petition gains significance because of the large number of non-performing assets, worth crores of rupee, in the names of such businessmen as Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. The petition said write-offs should end so that the “true and exact financial conditions of banks cannot be camouflaged.”

•“The banks should not be given any benefit of allowable provision or other in percentage to their Non-Performing Assets, which reduces their tax liabilities,” it said. The system of waiving of loans should be stopped, it said.

•“The Centre and State governments should not be permitted to reduce or waive loans. Political parties should not be permitted to offer loan waiver or any other monetary scheme in their election manifestos,” the petition said.

Farm push

•It said the Centre, States should formulate a policy to make agriculture profitable, help farmers become prosperous and increase their interest in farming.

📰 Navy to take part in fleet review in China

Pakistan is not participating in the event

•The Indian Navy has sent two ships to take part in the International Fleet Review to be held in Qingdao, China, later this month as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The ships are stealth destroyer INS Kolkata and fleet tanker INS Shakti.

•Surprisingly, Pakistan’s Navy is not taking part in the event.

•“The ships are likely to sail in the evening of April 22 to participate in the Naval Parade scheduled to be reviewed by Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 23,” the Navy said in a statement on Friday.

•The visit of the Navy’s most potent destroyer and versatile fleet support ship showcases India’s prowess, reach and sustainability, besides indigenous ship-building capability, the Navy said. The Indian delegation is being led by the Chief of Staff of the Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command, who is of the rank of Rear-Admiral.

•As a reciprocal gesture and as part of the efforts to promote military cooperation, China has agreed to send its ships on port calls to India, a Navy source said.

•“In a big surprise, Pakistan’s Navy is not participating in the event by its all-weather friend,” the Navy source said.

•During the harbour stay of the ships, there will be interactions between personnel of the participating navies, courtesy calls to various dignitaries of the PLA Navy and government officials, professional exchanges and sporting events. The ships will be opened for visits by People’s Liberation Army Navy personnel and local residents, the statement said.

•The INS Kolkata is an indigenously built stealth guided missile destroyer. The INS Shakti is one of the largest fleet replenishment tankers, displacing over 27,000 tonnes and capable of carrying 15,000 tonnes of liquid cargo.

•The Indian Navy had last held an International Fleet Review in February 2016, in which 50 navies of different countries took part with nearly 100 warships.

📰 Either way, the news is bad

If Pakistan does not take the IMF loan, it is in a mess. If it does, it is in a bigger mess

•When Asad Umar, Finance Minister of Pakistan, returned from Washington after attending the Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank a few days ago, the first task he had in front of him was to deny the strong rumours that he was being demoted to be the petroleum minister. The rumours died down at that moment, but on Thursday, he was sent packing. He was, indeed, offered the petroleum ministry, which he has declined. (Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, a former Adviser under General Musharraf, has been named the adviser on finance, adding to the growing list of the Musharraf Cabinet in this current government.) At a moment when Pakistan’s economy is facing a major crisis, it also has no finance minister now. Whoever will take the new job will have to face challenges they may neither be prepared for nor experienced enough to deal with.

In free-fall mode

•Pakistan’s economy has been ruined in the last eight months since when Imran Khan became Prime Minister and his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) formed the government. Almost every indicator has deteriorated substantially. For example, inflation, at 9.4%, is at its highest level in five-and-a-half years and is likely to rise to double digits for the months ahead. The rupee continues to lose value every other day, which adds to further inflation especially with the oil price on the way up. More devaluation is expected over the next few months especially when the government gives in to yet another IMF programme. The fiscal deficit is about to hit more than 6% of GDP, and even a cut in development expenditure will not stop this rot, as defence spending and interest payments continue to rise. Pakistan’s exports which have been stuck at around $26 bn for years, despite the 35% devaluation of the rupee over one year, have barely budged. The government owes power producing companies huge amounts of money — known as the circular debt — which continues to accumulate, and interest rates are also going up making the cost of business even more uncompetitive. The State Bank of Pakistan recently lowered the expectations of the GDP growth for the current fiscal year to an eight-year low, to around 3.5%, an estimate which was reduced further by the IMF and the World Bank to a dismal 2.9% for the current fiscal year, and expected to fall further over the next three years. The GDP grew by 5.8% in the last fiscal year, the highest in 13 years. By all accounts, Pakistan’s economy is in a dismal state.

Key factors

•A major reason why the economy has taken such a sharp plunge, with GDP growth being halved within a year, is on account of the mismanagement and incompetence of the current government and by its economic team. On top of that, there has been the hubris led by and manifested in Mr. Khan, once saying that he would rather commit suicide than go to the IMF, popular slogans when one is the main nuisance factor in the opposition, but quite embarrassing as Prime Minister of a country facing a major economic meltdown.

•The economic problem Pakistan faces at the moment, has two aspects to it, and is a major case of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’. One reason why Pakistan’s economy is in such a mess is because the arrogance and bravado of Mr. Khan, which was mimicked by his economic and finance team, has come to haunt all of them. For eight months the economy has been mismanaged because of the fact that the then newly-elected government in August did not do what it should have. It was almost certain that whichever party would have won the elections of July 2018, it would ask the IMF for a major structural adjustment loan. At that time, there did not seem to be many alternatives. Mr. Khan’s strategy was to run to a few of Pakistan’s friends begging for money, and to not bow his head in front of the IMF. By not submitting to the IMF then, they now have no option but to submit almost a year later. A non-IMF policy and programme was always preferred and a better option in August last year, but the incompetence of Mr. Khan, matched with vanity, did not allow for reforms to be undertaken, and has only made matters far worse.

•So, after having said that they won’t go to the IMF, that’s exactly where they are now. From finding (and failing at) alternatives to revive Pakistan’s economy, the finance minister has had to find ways to convince the IMF that Pakistan needs the IMF. The reasons for the rumours of him being dismissed from his post, should have been based on his poor performance of running the economy, but they shifted to how he wasn’t able to cut an IMF deal a few days ago when he was in Washington. The fact that he was not able to meet the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, nor the IMF head, Christine Lagarde, on this visit, was seen as yet another sign of this failure by the Pakistani media. Nevertheless, the IMF deal is now a certainty, and although the finance minister has been replaced, there was probably no need for a replacement. When the IMF implements its strict conditionalities and adjustment programme, to which the finance minister and the country supposedly ‘agree’, the finance minister becomes redundant and is simply the bearer and front for bad news and tough conditions. The new finance Adviser will fit this role perfectly.

Tough road ahead

•The new IMF programme, the biggest Pakistan is expecting to receive, to be between $6-$10 bn, which is almost a certainty now, is going to make things far worse for all Pakistanis, and especially for the working people already dealing with prospects of a marked economic slowdown and high and rising inflation. The IMF will further cut the minuscule development expenditure left, although defence spending will remain a matter of ‘national security’ never discussed in Parliament, hence, not to be touched. The IMF will ensure austerity, stabilisation and will cut the growth rate further. It will insist on further devaluation, or ‘adjustment’ of the rupee, as it calls it, causing greater inflation, and will insist on raising utility prices. In every respect, the people of Pakistan will face the prospects of fewer jobs, rising prices and an economy which is now the worst performer in all of South Asia.

•This will be the 13th IMF rescue package for Pakistan’s governments and its elites in less than four decades. Each time there is an economic crisis created due to mismanagement, the elite remain under-taxed, the IMF and World Bank jump in to save them. Usually, Pakistan’s governments in the past, especially the military, leverage Pakistan’s so-called geostrategic position and situation and gain undue access, with the U.S. having been Pakistan’s biggest champion and supporter. As global power shifts and the region changes, so has Pakistan’s position in it. One of the stumbling blocks to the deal this time has been the IMF’s insistence that Pakistan reveal the financial deals made with China, including financial loans, as well as the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. If Pakistan doesn’t take the IMF loan, it is in a mess. If it takes the loan, it is in a bigger mess. Either way, the news is bad.

📰 Humanise the law: draft Indian Forest Act

The draft Indian Forest Act must be redrawn to rid it of bureaucratic overreach

•Modernising colonial era laws is a long-delayed project, but the draft Indian Forest Act, 2019 is woefully short of being a transformative piece of legislation. The original law, the Indian Forest Act, 1927, is an incongruous relic, its provisions having been drafted to suit the objectives of a colonial power that had extractive uses for forests in mind. A new law enacted should make a departure and be aimed to expand India’s forests, and ensure the well-being of traditional forest-dwellers and biodiversity in these landscapes. The need is for a paradigm that encourages community-led, scientifically validated conservation. This is critical, for only 2.99% of India’s geographic area is classified as very dense forest; the rest of the green cover of a total of 21.54% is nearly equally divided into open and moderately dense forest, according to the State of Forest Report 2017. The draft Bill reinforces the idea of bureaucratic control of forests, providing immunity for actions such as use of firearms by personnel to prevent an offence. The hardline policing approach is reflected in the emphasis on creating infrastructure to detain and transport the accused, and to penalise entire communities through denial of access to forests for offences by individuals. Such provisions invariably affect poor inhabitants, and run counter to the empowering and egalitarian goals that produced the Forest Rights Act.

•India’s forests play a key role in moderating the lives of not just the adivasis and other traditional dwellers, but everyone in the subcontinent, through their impact on the climate and monsoons. Their health can be improved only through collaboration. Any new forest law must, therefore, aim to reduce conflicts, incentivise tribals and stop diversion for non-forest uses. This can be achieved by recognising all suitable landscapes as forests and insulating them from commercial exploitation. Such an approach requires a partnership with communities on the one hand, and scientists on the other. For decades now, the Forest Department has resisted independent scientific evaluation of forest health and biodiversity conservation outcomes. In parallel, environmental policy has weakened public scrutiny of decisions on diversion of forests for destructive activities such as mining and large dam construction. Impact assessment reports have mostly been reduced to a farce, and the public hearings process has been diluted. When a new government takes over, the entire issue should go back to the drawing board. The government needs to launch a process of consultation, beginning with the State governments to ensure that a progressive law is adopted by all States, including those that have their own versions of the existing Act. The Centre must hear the voice of all stakeholders and communities, including independent scientific experts.

📰 Gold imports dip 3% to $32.8 bn in FY19

‘Softening prices in global markets may be a reason for lower value of imports’

•The country’s gold imports dipped about 3% in value terms to $32.8 billion during 2018-19, which trend is expected to keep a lid on the current account deficit.

•Total imports of the precious metal in 2017-18 had stood at $33.7 billion, according to data from the Commerce Ministry.

•Trade experts said softening prices of the yellow metal in the global markets could be the reason for the contraction in the value of imports.

•After recording negative growth in February, the imports grew 31.22% to $3.27 billion in March.

•India is one of the largest gold importers in the world, and the imports mainly take care of demand from the jewellery industry.

•The jump in imports during March helped gems and jewellery exporters push their exports. The outbound shipments dipped only marginally by 0.37% to $3.42 billion in March.

•The country’s current account deficit (CAD), or the difference between outflow and inflow of foreign exchange in the current account, widened to 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter of the fiscal, against 2.1% in the year-ago period, mainly due to a large trade deficit.

Import restrictions

•The government had introduced several measures to restrict the import of gold. Import of the yellow metal attracts 10% duty.

•The domestic jewellery industry has consistently sought a cut in the duty and relaxation of other import norms for increasing availability of the yellow metal to boost jewellery exports.

📰 BBB tags 75 officers for leadership roles in PSBs

They will help public sector lenders address current and emerging challenges

•The Banks Board Bureau (BBB), the apex body for selection of whole-time directors of state-owned lenders, has identified 75 senior management personnel of public sector lenders to take over leadership roles in the future.

•From a pool of 450 senior management personnel across nationalised banks, an inaugural batch of about 75 personnel has been identified this year to help these banks take on the current and emerging challenges as well as help create a leadership pipeline, the Bureau said in its activity report for the October 2018-March 2019 period.

•“They are presently undergoing deeper assessments after which individual development plans will be generated. Shortly, a globally-ranked Indian institution will be identified, where every year, the identified personnel will undergo intensive leadership development journey,” the Bureau said.

‘Complete autonomy’

•It has made a case for giving complete autonomy to banks to decide organisational structure for better efficiency.

•The Bureau also suggested revamping the credit governance architecture in nationalised banks to reinforce efforts to minimise credit costs and enhance efficiency of credit allocation.

•“Incentivise maximisation of risk-adjusted income and disincentivise operational inefficiencies by aligning compensation with right performance metrics through the introduction of performance-based compensation through Employee Stock Option Scheme, which is different from Employee Share Purchase Scheme, and Performance-Linked Incentives,” the Bureau said in its report.

📰 Cases of measles show alarming rise, warns WHO

Global data shows a jump of 300% in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period last year

•The number of cases of measles — one of the world’s most contagious diseases — is climbing, warned the World Health Organisation (WHO), stating that preliminary global data shows that reported cases rose by 300% in the first three months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

•In 2017, the most recent year for which estimates are available, it caused close to 1,10,000 deaths. Worse, in recent months, spikes in case numbers have also occurred in countries with high overall vaccination coverage, including the United States of America as well as Israel, Thailand, and Tunisia, as the disease has spread fast among clusters of unvaccinated people.

•“Measles has the potential to be extremely severe. Even in high-income countries, complications result in hospitalisation in up to a quarter of cases, and can lead to lifelong disability, from brain damage and blindness to hearing loss,” said WHO.

•It added that while data released currently was “provisional and not yet complete, it indicates a clear trend”.

•“The actual numbers of cases — captured in global estimates — will also be considerably higher than those reported. We estimate that less than 1 in 10 cases are reported globally, with variations by region. With this as the background to date, 2019 has seen 170 countries report 1,12,163 measles cases to WHO. As of this time last year, there were 28,124 measles cases from 163 countries. Globally, this is almost a 300% increase,” noted WHO. Countries with the most reported cases include Madagascar, Ukraine, India, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Chad, Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines and Democratic Republic of the Congo.

India at risk

•A senior Health Ministry official said that to “eliminate measles and control rubella, mass [over 95%] immunisation of children is required. In India, measles is still one of the leading causes of death in young children. About 15% of vaccinated children fail to develop immunity from the first dose, meaning that if only 80% are fully immunised, an outbreak is likely. We have to ensure herd immunity to stay ahead of the disease.’’

•WHO’s African region has recorded a 700% increase, the region of the Americas 60%, the European region 300%, the Eastern Mediterranean 100% and 40% increases have been observed in South-east Asia and the Western Pacific.

•Many countries are in the midst of sizeable measles outbreaks, with all regions of the world experiencing sustained rise in cases. Current outbreaks include those from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Sudan, Thailand and Ukraine, causing many deaths — mostly among young children.

•The disease is almost entirely preventable through two doses of a safe and effective vaccine. For several years, however, global coverage with the first dose of measles vaccine has stalled at 85%. This is still short of the 95% needed to prevent outbreaks, and leaves many people, in many communities, at risk. Second dose coverage, while increasing, stands at 67%.