Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda on 8 December 2017 released the National Trachoma Survey Report 2014-17.
While releasing the report, the Ministry declared that India is now free from ‘Infective Trachoma’, a contagious bacterial infection of the eye.
With this, India met the goal of trachoma elimination as specified by the WHO under its GET2020 program.
Highlights of the National Trachoma Survey Report 2014-17
• The survey findings indicate that the active trachoma infection has been eliminated among children in all the survey districts with overall prevalence of only 0.7 per cent.
• This is much below the elimination criteria of infective trachoma as defined by the WHO. As per WHO, Trachoma is considered eliminated if the prevalence of active infection among children below 10 years is less than 5 per cent.
• The Survey results indicate that active trachoma is no longer a public health problem in India.
• 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.
• States which still report cases of active trachoma, need to develop a strategy for community-based case finding of patients of trachomatoustrichiasis (TT).
• These cases must be provided free entropion surgery/ treatment in local hospitals.
• Adequate surveillance of the disease must be done all over the country in order to certify India as trachoma free.
What is Trachoma?
• Trachoma is a chronic infective disease of the eye and is the leading cause of infective blindness globally.
• Trachoma is an outcome 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 of the eyelashes and eyelids which further causes damage to the cornea and blindness.
• It was found affecting the population in certain States of North India like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Nicobar Islands.
• It was the main cause of corneal blindness in India, affecting young children.
About National Trachoma Prevalence Surveys
• The National Trachoma Prevalence Surveys and the Trachoma Rapid Assessment Surveys were conducted by Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, New Delhi in collaboration with National Program for Control of Blindness & Visual Impairment.
• It was conducted in 27 high-risk districts across 23 states and union territories.
• Under the survey, 19662 children in 1-9 year age group were examined by trained ophthalmologists. As many as 44135 persons were examined among the age group of 15 years and above.