New Delhi: In a significant milestone, doctors at AIIMS claimed that India is now free from trachoma, a bacterial infection that affects your eyes.
The infection, which is caused by an obligate intracellular bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis, is common in children till nine years of age. It is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide.
“We can say that trachoma is no more a public health problem. The survey report will be submitted to the Ministry of Health by the end of this month,” said
“We can say that trachoma is no more a public health problem, Dr Atul Kumar, chief and professor of Ophthalmology at AIIMS, said.
The doctors from the Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS conducted a survey in 27 districts across the country to assess the burden of trachoma.
The three-year survey (March 2014-2017) revealed that the extent of the disease has reduced significantly.
Dr Kumar said the survey report will be submitted to the Ministry of Health by the end of this month.
Trachoma is considered as “eliminated” when its prevalence drops to less than five per cent among children aged between 1 to 9 years, as per the criteria laid down by WHO, Dr Kumar added.
The survery also included adults, but the data about the prevalence of trachoma among adults is yet to be analysed, said
“In1950, the prevalence of the disease was very high in Northwest India. About 50-80 per cent children were diagnosed with infection, following which the then Union Health Ministry started the National Trachoma Control Programme, Dr Praveen Vashist, HOD community Opthalmology and who was part of the survey survey, was quoted as saying to Mail Today.
Following which the government initiated measures, including treatment with antibiotic, surgeries and also sensitising people about prevention.
Meanwhile, the survey recommends mass treatment to the entire population of Nicobar islands as it found nearly 50 per cent tribals residing in the island are at high risk of contracting the disease.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), trachoma is known to be a public health problem in 42 countries, and is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.9 million people. Blindness from trachoma is irreversible.
Prevention and control steps include – surgery for advanced disease (trachomatous trichiasis), antibiotics to clear infection, facial cleanliness and environmental improvement – particularly improving access to water and sanitation – to reduce transmission risk.