Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare in India, Shri J P Nadda declared Friday that India is now free from ‘infective trachoma’, and termed this as a momentous achievement.
Shri J P Nadda stated that the findings of the National Trachoma Survey Report shows that the active trachoma infection has been eliminated among children in all the survey districts with overall prevalence of only 0.7 percent.
This is much below the elimination criteria of infective trachoma as defined by the WHO- active trachoma is considered eliminated if the prevalence of active infection among children below 10 years is less than 5 percent.
The health minister added that they have met the goal of trachoma elimination as specified by the WHO under its GET2020 program. This has been possible due to decades of inter-sectoral interventions and efforts that included provision of antibiotic eye drops, personal hygiene, availability of safe water, improved environmental sanitation, availability of surgical facilities for chronic trachoma, and a general improvement in the socio economic status in the country.
Trachoma is responsible for an estimated 7-8 million cases of permanent blindness particularly in the Middle East and Africa. It is also endemic on the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and China.
It is estimated that 84 million people, particularly children and mothers are infected in dozens of countries.
Trachoma is a disease of poor environmental and personal hygiene and inadequate access to water and sanitation. It affects the conjunctiva under the eyelids. Repeated infections cause scarring leading to in-turning ofthe eyelashes and eyelids. This further causes damage to the cornea and blindness.
The bacteria responsible for trachoma, Chlamydia trachomatis serovars A-C, is transmitted by contact with bacteria in the eye and nasal discharges of infected persons, especially young children.