Nepal becomes first country in South-East Asia to eliminate Trachoma: WHO

May 25, 2018 08:49 IST
INT-Nepal becomes first country in South East Asia to eliminate Trachoma WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) on May 21, 2018 declared Nepal as free from Trachoma, the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness.

With this, Nepal becomes first country in WHO’s South-East Asia Region to eliminate Trachoma.

What WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia has to say for Nepal’s achievement?

Nepal’s achievement is commendable and resulted from strong political commitment, intense community engagement and impressive leadership demonstrated by the civil society, Dr Khetrapal Singh, the WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.


Nepal’s fight against Trachoma

• Trachoma was the second leading cause of preventable blindness in Nepal in the 1980s.

• In 2002, the Nepal Government augmented its efforts to eliminate the disease by launching the National Trachoma Programme.

• Following the implementation of the programme, the prevalence of active trachoma fell by 40 percent from 2002 to 2005.

• Between 2002 and 2014, eye hospitals and dozens of eye centres and clinics with trained staff were established across Nepal.

• Other factors that boosted control and elimination of Trachoma were funding and excellent coordination among key partners and donors.

• The Nepalese Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation provided incentives to local communities and districts to build and maintain latrines with an aim to improve sanitation and reduce disease-carrying flies.

• In order to increase awareness, the National Trachoma Programme collaborated with the Nepalese Ministry of Education to include a module on trachoma in the school curriculum.

• Apart from this, the government stepped up the efforts to increase awareness about the disease through education campaigns, brochures, posters, radio announcements in schools and village health centres.

• Around 30000 operations were undertaken to manage trichiasis, and almost 15 million doses of Azithromycin were distributed to cure the disease.

• Azithromycin is donated by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer through the International Trachoma Initiative and was delivered in Nepal by NNJS with support from the United States Agency for International Development-funded ENVISION project, implemented by the RTI International.

Factors that determine that a country has eliminated trachoma as a public health problem

  • Less than 5 percent of children aged 1–9 years have signs of active trachoma, also known as trachomatous inflammation–follicular, that can be treated with antibiotics in previously-endemic districts.
  • Only less than 0.2 percent of people aged 15 years and older have trachomatous trichiasis, which requires eyelid surgery, in each previously-endemic district
  • A health system which can identify and manage new cases of trachomatous trichiasis.


WHO’s efforts to tackle Trachoma

• In 1996, WHO launched the WHO Alliance for the Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020 (GET2020) for the implementation of the Surgery for trichiasis, Antibiotics to clear infection, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement to limit transmission strategy (SAFE).

• In 1998, the World Health Assembly determined to eliminate trachoma as a public health problem worldwide.

• In 2014, the WHO South-East Asia Regional Director Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh identified elimination of neglected tropical diseases as one of the priority programmes. Since then, countries in the region including Nepal have been making efforts to eliminate these diseases including Trachoma.

About Trachoma

 trachoma

Trachoma

  • Trachoma is an eye disease that is caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.
  • The disease gets spread through contact with infective eye or nose discharges.
  • The infection in eye or nose is particularly common in young children.
  • Visual or nasal discharge can spread directly from person to person or can be transmitted by flies which have been in contact with the eyes and noses of infected people.
  • Trachoma transmission is associated with poor sanitation and hygiene.
  • Trachoma puts more than 190 million people at risk of blindness in 41 countries and is responsible for the blindness of around 1.9 million people worldwide.
  • Elimination of trachoma is inexpensive, simple and highly cost-effective.

 

 Source: WHO

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