By Priyanka Sharma, New Delhi, July 13: Union Health Ministry has received fresh cases of trachomatous trichiasis (TT) with prevalence rate at 3.5 per 1,000 population while the World Health Organisation (WHO) restricts the disease's prevalence to less than two per 1,000 population.
Trichiasis is the sight-threatening consequence of conjunctival scarring in trachoma, the most common infectious cause of blindness worldwide. Trachomatous trichiasis is the result of multiple infections from childhood with chlamydia trachomatis, which causes recurrent chronic inflammation in the tarsal conjunctiva.
On December 8, 2017, India was declared free of active trachoma cases. People above 15 years are more vulnerable to get contracted with the disease.
Union Health Ministry has identified at least 200 'hyper-endemic' districts across the country with 390 million population living in these 'endemic' regions in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, East Delhi, Chandigarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and the Nicobar Islands.
Prof Promila Gupta, Principal Consultant, dealing with the National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment, told ANI "Our results have suggested that active trachoma is no longer a public health problem in the country as India has eliminated the trachoma disease. But now, TT has emerged as a chronic sequela of infective trachoma, which continues to be a common threat in some parts of the country. We have initiated our surveillance in all vulnerable districts to ensure that active infection and its sequela are in check."
"For this, we have constituted a central committee along with the experts from the WHO, top ophthalmologists from AIIMS, State Programme Officers and District Programme Officers from all the endemic districts. We have chalked out a plan to identify the cases and refer them to trained ophthalmologists for surgery. This is to free the country from trachoma sequelae," added Dr Gupta.
According to Dr Gupta, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship programme like 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' has really helped us in eliminating the disease.
"We have to implement aggressive Information Education Communication (IEC) about trachoma through various mediums to completely eradicate the disease from the country," he said.
Prof Atul Kumar, Chief of Rajendra Prasad Eye Centre at AIIMS, said that continuous occurrence of trachoma can lead to blindness.
"It is caused by the bacterial infection -- chlamydia trachomatis. It is spread through inadequate latrines, overcrowding, lack of water, poor hygiene, sanitation and environment factors like humid conditions," he said.
The key findings of the National Trachoma Prevalence Surgery (2014-17) noted a low of 0.7 per cent of active trachoma infection in the districts included in the survey.
During this period, none of the surveyed districts reported more than 5 per cent prevalence of active trachoma infection as per the criteria set by the WHO.
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