Saturday October 20, 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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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

Donald Trump, India
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)