India declared Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus and Yaws Free by WHO
India has been declared Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus and Yaws Free by WHO.
Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus
• Tetanus occurs when a bacterium, Clostridium tetani, enters the body through an open wound or puncture.
• A newborn can be infected with tetanus due to unhygienic birthing practices, such as cutting the umbilical cord with unsterile instruments or treating it with contaminated dressings.
• Mothers can also be infected with tetanus during unsafe or unsanitary delivery if there are unsanitary conditions where the tetanus spores are present.
• Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) is totally preventable through immunization and hygienic birth practices.
• India has been declared Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Free by WHO. The elimination of MNT as a public health problem means that the annual rate is less than 1 per 1000 live births.
• Reasons are:
a) Access to immunization, antenatal care services and skilled birth attendance in the most vulnerable populations – the poor, the remote and isolated communities where hygienic obstetric, postnatal practices and other health services were suboptimal or not accessible.
b) India has re-energized national immunization programme and the special immunization weeks.
c) ‘Mission Indradhanush’, helped ensure that children and pregnant women are reached with vaccines.
d) The ‘National Rural Health Mission’ promoted institutional deliveries with a focus on the poor.
e) The ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana’ encouraged women to give birth in a health facility.
However unlike smallpox and polio, tetanus cannot be eradicated as tetanus spores remain stubbornly present in the environment worldwide. As the risk of tetanus persists, government need to continue efforts to ensure that MNTE is maintained - women and children are immunized and clean deliveries and proper cord care activities get a further boost.
• Yaws is a chronic disfiguring and debilitating childhood infectious disease caused by Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue.
• The disease affects skin, bone and cartilage.
• The disease is found primarily in poor communities in warm, humid and tropical forest areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific. The majority of affected populations live at the “end of the road” and therefore have limited access to basic social amenities and health care. Poor socio-economic conditions and personal hygiene (caused by a lack of water and soap for bathing and washing), scanty clothing, and overcrowding facilitate the spread of yaws.
• WHO declared India free of yaws in May 2016.
The ministry plans to sustain the achievements by health system strengthening; high routine immunization coverage and promotion of institutional/clean delivery/clean cord practices and effective surveillance system.
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