New Delhi: The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mr J P Nadda has declared that India is now free from ‘infective trachoma’, and termed this as a momentous achievement. His announcement is based on the National Trachoma Survey Report (2014-17) that he released on 8th December at New Delhi.
The survey findings indicate that the active trachoma infection has been eliminated among children in all the survey districts with an overall prevalence of only 0.7%. 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%, he added.
Minister of State (HFW), Ms Anupriya Patel was also present at the release of the Survey Report. The Health Ministers congratulated all the people associated with the survey, especially the frontline health workers who have worked often in try conditions to conduct the survey.
The Union Health Minister stated that the Survey results indicate that active trachoma is no longer a public health problem in India. We have met the goal of trachoma elimination as specified by the WHO under its GET2020 program, he said. 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, he added. Mr Nadda emphasized the need for constant surveillance by the states to report any fresh cases of trachoma and trachoma sequelae(TT cases) and to treat them promptly to finally be completely free of trachoma.
At the release of the Survey Report, Mr Nadda stated that it is our aim to eliminate trachomatoustrichiasis from the country. 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, he stated. ShriNadda further said that a careful record of each case identified and its management status must be maintained as per the WHO Guidelines. Also, adequate surveillance of the disease must be done all over the country in order to certify India as trachoma-free (eliminated). Monthly data on indicators of trachoma surveillance as per WHO guidelines must be regularly sent to the NPCB, he urged the states.
Speaking at the function, Ms Anupriya Patel stated that findings of the survey are extremely encouraging. Congratulating the team, SmtAnupriya Patel said that Active Trachoma is no longer a public health threat. She further said that surveillance has to go up along with regular monitoring for completely eliminating trachoma from the country.
Trachoma is a chronic infective disease of the eye and is the leading cause of infective blindness globally. Trachoma is a disease of poor environmental and personal hygiene and inadequate access to water and sanitation. It affects the conjunctiva under the eyelids.