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Wastewater Surveillance UPSC NOTE


What is Wastewater surveillance?

  • Wastewater surveillance refers to the monitoring and analysis of wastewater samples to gather information about the presence and spread of disease-causing agents, such as viruses or bacteria, within a community.

  • It involves systematically sampling and testing wastewater from various sources, such as sewage systems or wastewater ponds. 

  • The samples are then analyzed in designated laboratories to identify specific markers or genetic fragments of pathogens.


  • Detects disease-causing agents before clinical cases are reported

  • Enabling prompt response and containment measures.

  • Offers insights into overall community health, aiding in disease trend identification and targeted interventions.

  • Eliminates the need for individual samples, reducing costs associated with collection, testing, and analysis.

  • Provides additional information beyond clinical data, capturing asymptomatic cases and enhancing disease prevalence understanding.

India’s opportunities

  • The integration of wastewater surveillance with existing surveillance mechanisms could help amplify India’s epidemiological capabilities.

  • For instance, efforts to strengthen public health laboratory networks could incorporate the testing of wastewater samples into surveillance reporting. 

  • This could strengthen the capacity to detect diseases at an early stage, including in areas where access to healthcare facilities and diagnostic testing might be limited.

  • The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, which aims to create a seamless online platform for healthcare services, offers an opportunity for the integration of wastewater surveillance.

  • This would allow for real-time tracking of disease spread and facilitate more effective, targeted public health responses. 

  • Successful integration will rely on public health professionals trained not only in traditional epidemiological methods, but also in the management and interpretation of data derived from wastewater surveillance.


  • The promise of wastewater surveillance hinges on data sharing. 

  • This is not just a domestic issue, but also an international consideration. 

  • It is crucial to cultivate an environment of accessibility and cooperative strategies among appropriate agencies, within and beyond borders. 

  • Internally, providing access to wastewater surveillance data to health departments at all levels of government can amplify our capabilities for disease monitoring and response. 

  • Sharing wastewater surveillance data with global health agencies could foster collaborative efforts in disease tracking and mitigation. 

  • This can be a key element in building a robust global health infrastructure capable of rapidly responding to public health threats.

  • The integration of wastewater surveillance is fully aligned with Niti Aayog’s current vision. 

  • Other innovative forms of disease surveillance include social media surveillance and occupational health surveillance.

  • India’s leadership at international platforms like the G20 could serve as an opportunity to elevate the significance of innovative approaches to disease surveillance.

  • By actively pushing this agenda, India could not only call for international commitments and support, but also position itself as a leader and coordinator in this field.

What is “Global South”?

  • The term ‘Global South’ began by loosely referring to those countries that were left out of the industrialisation era and had a conflict of ideology with the capitalist and communist countries, accentuated by the Cold War.

  • It includes countries that are mostly in Asia, Africa and South America.

  • The Global South refers to various countries around the world that are sometimes described as ‘developing’, ‘less developed’ or ‘underdeveloped’. 

  • The term ‘Global South’ is not geographical. In fact, the Global South’s two largest countries — China and India — lie entirely in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • In general, they are poorer, have higher levels of income inequality and suffer lower life expectancy and harsher living conditions than countries in the “Global North”.

    • “Global North” — that is, richer nations that are located mostly in North America and Europe, with some additions in Oceania and elsewhere.


  • Its usage denotes a mix of political, geopolitical and economic commonalities between nations.

  • By 2030 it is projected that three of the four largest economies will be from the Global South — with the order being China, India, the U.S. and Indonesia. 

  • Already the GDP in terms of purchasing power - BRICS nations (Global South) dominated — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — surpasses that of the Global North’s G-7 club.

  • And there are now more billionaires in Beijing than in New York City.

  • Countries in the Global South are increasingly asserting themselves on the global scene.

    • China’s brokering of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement.

    • Brazil’s attempt to push a peace plan to end the war in Ukraine. 

  • The Global South is flexing political and economic muscles that the ‘developing countries’ and the ‘Third World’ never had.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Wastewater Surveillance UPSC NOTE
Wastewater Surveillance UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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