Monday January 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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Next Story

India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.