WHO certifies India free from Yaws, Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus

Sep 8, 2016 08:17 IST

India on 6 September 2016 received certificates from World Health Organisation (WHO) recognising the elimination of Yaws and Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) from the country.

The certificates were presented to Union Health Minister JP Nadda at the 69th Session of the WHO regional committee for south-east Asia region held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

With this, India became the first country to be officially acknowledged as being yaws-free.

The elimination of tetanus as a public health problem means that the annual rate of maternal and neonatal tetanus in India is now less than 1 per 1000 live births.

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What is Yaws?

Yaws is a tropical infection of the skin, bones and joints caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum pertenue.

It is spread by direct contact with the fluid from a lesion of an infected person.

The disease is most common among children, who spread it by playing together.

The disease infects only humans.

What is Neonatal Tetanus?

Neonatal tetanus is a form of generalised tetanus that occurs in newborns.

Infants who have not acquired passive immunity from the mother having been immunised are at risk.

It usually occurs through infection of the unhealed umbilical stump, particularly when the stump is cut with a non-sterile instrument.

The disease mostly occurs in developing countries, particularly those with the least developed health infrastructure. It is rare in developed countries.


India was validated for maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination in April 2015, much ahead of the global target date of December 2015.

India being yaws-free is also significant as India has achieved this important landmark much before the WHO global target year of 2020.

The Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination has been the result of India's focused approach on making maternal and newborn care accessible to all.

Reducing maternal and neonatal tetanus to less than one case per 1000 live births in all 675 districts has helped improve access to immunization, antenatal care services and skilled birth attendance in the most vulnerable populations.

Both yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus eliminations were achieved using the existing health system and health workforce.

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