Sunday April 22, 2018

WHO certifies India as Yaws, Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus free

A few decades back India witnessed 1-2 lakh neonatal tetanus cases annually, which have been now reduced to one per 1,000 live births

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A community health worker prepares a vaccine. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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  • WHO declares India as Yaws free, a chronic disfiguring and debilitating childhood infectious disease
  • The disease occurs mainly in poor communities in warm, humid, tropical areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America
  • About three-quarters of people affected are children under 15 years of age

Sept 10, 2016: Yaws is a chronic disfiguring and debilitating childhood infectious disease which spreads through the direct contact with the skin of an infected person but now India has the distinction of being the first country to be officially acknowledged as yaws free. A few decades back India witnessed 1-2 lakh neonatal tetanus cases annually, which have been now reduced to one per 1,000 live births.

Neonatal tetanus is a form of generalized tetanus that occurs in newborn. It usually occurs through infection of the unhealed umbilical stump, particularly when the stump is cut with a non-sterile instrument. Neonatal tetanus mostly occurred in developing countries, particularly those with the least developed health infrastructure.

This disease primarily affects tribal population living in remote hilly areas having difficult terrain. It is responsible not only for misery among the affected people but also contributes significantly to the economic strain of the already impoverished segments of our society.

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The disease begins with a round hard swelling of the skin, 2 to 5 centimeters in diameter. The center may break open and form an ulcer. The initial skin lesion typically heals after 3 to 6 months. After weeks to years, joints and bones may become painful, fatigue may develop and new skin lesions may appear. The skin of the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet may become thick and break open. After five years or more large areas of skin may die leaving scars.

In India, literature on yaws is rather scarce. Reports suggest, that yaws to be non-existent in India till 1887 and the first cases were first noticed among tea plantation laborers in Assam. From Assam, yaws later got spread to the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and other areas.

The disease was reported from the communities living in hilly and forested areas in the tribal inhabited districts in states of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Madhya Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat are other states.

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In the 1950s,a mass campaign launched with assistance from WHO and UNICEF resulted in marked reduction of yaws cases in India and disease prevalence was brought down from 14.0 per cent to below 0.1 per cent in many areas. Following this dramatic decline in disease transmission, active anti-yaws activities were abandoned in the majority of the States. In 1977, yaws resurgence occurred in Madhya Pradesh.

In 1981, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Delhi undertook a rapid survey to assess the situation; data indicated that transmission of yaws continued to occur in some areas of the country. In addition, a new focus was suspected in Dang district of Gujarat. In 1985, NICD collected information using mailed questionnaire method from various districts of five states (Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu).

The data suggested that problem of yaws continued to linger on in India albeit at a low level. In 1995, NICD prepared a project document on Yaws Eradication Programme in India, which was approved by Government of India for initiating the programme in Koraput district (undivided) of Orissa and was then expanded to cover all the yaws-endemic states of the country. The disease was finally declared as eliminated on 19th Sept 2006.

Both yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus eliminations were achieved using the existing health system and health workforce. Sustained political commitment and clear policies, unified strategies, close supervision and monitoring the frontline workers; and invaluable support of partners, particularly for Maternal and neonatal Tetanus- were the key factors that have helped to achieve the target.

Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director of WHO South-East Asia Regional Office said, India has achieved this milestone because of education and early treatment of vulnerable population. The achievements will not only improve the health of marginalized communities but will also enhance their socio-economic status and contribute to India’s wider development.

– prepared by Aakash Mandyal of NewsGram with inputs from various sources.

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Big reforms made India fastest growing major economies globally: Garg

It also has enormous implications for emerging markets and developing countries

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The RBI building in Mumbai. Photo credit: AFP/Sajjad Hussain

The major reforms undertaken by the Indian government for raising economic growth and maintaining macroeconomic stability have made the country one of the fastest growing major economies in the world, said Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).

Garg was addressing the Special Event hosted by US-India Strategic Partnership Forum on ‘Indian Economy: Prospect and Challenges’ in Washington D.C on Friday.

Indian economy needs big reform.

He said the launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) represented an “historic economic and political achievement, unprecedented in Indian tax and economic reforms, which has rekindled optimism on structural reforms.” He further emphasized that India carried-out such major reforms when the global economy was slow.

“With the cyclical recovery in global growth amid supportive monetary conditions and the transient impact of the major structural reforms over, India will continue to perform robustly,” Garg said.

During his meetings, Garg highlighted that the digital age technologies have profound implications for policies concerning every aspects of the economy. It also has enormous implications for emerging markets and developing countries.

Also Read: Biggest Bank Frauds Which Shook The Indian Economy

He expressed that the response to such a transformation will have to shift from ‘catch up’ growth to adoption/adaption of digital technologies for development and growth.

Garg also informed that India has started adopting policies and programmes for transforming systems of delivery of services using digital technologies and connecting every Indian with digital technologies and access through Aadhaar and other such means.

Indian economy should be on rise. www.mapsofindia.com

While citing the example of expanding mobile data access, he mentioned that India is now the largest consumer of mobile data in the world with 11 gigabytes mobile data consumption per month. He informed that India is investing in digital technologies, encouraging private sector to adapt these technologies and also addressing the taxation related issues by introducing equalisation levy.

Garg is currently on an official tour to Washington D.C. to attend the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and other associated meetings. He is accompanied by Urjit Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India and other senior officials. IANS