Communicable and Non-communicable diseases – HIV, Malaria, Cancer, Mental Health, etc.

Eyes to the island: Car Nicobar’s victory over hyperendemic trachoma


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mass Drug Administration, Trachoma, WHO SAFE guidelines, GET 2020 alliance, Ten Degree Channel, Tribes of Andaman

Mains level: Measures required to control various public health concerns

Public health project to eliminate hyperendemic trachoma

  1. Mass Drug Administration is the medical response to a public health concern that entails treating the entire population of a specified area with a prescribed dosage of pharmaceuticals
  2. Such a project was started in Car Nicobar following the discovery of a hyperendemic and active infection of trachoma on the island

About Trachoma

  1. Trachoma is a contagious and preventable cause of blindness
  2. Trachoma occurs upon repeated infections from the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis
  3. It thrives in congested living conditions among populations that have limited access to water and healthcare
  4. It is transmitted by flies and aided by poor personal hygiene and fomites
  5. Co-habitation with animals like pigs, hens, goats, dogs, cats etc. could be a contributory risk factor
  6. Trachoma is hyperendemic in many of the poorest and most rural areas of 41 countries of Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East

WHO SAFE guidelines

  1. World Health Organisation’s (WHO) SAFE (Surgery for trichiasis, Antibiotics for infections, Facial cleanliness, and Environmental improvement) guidelines were developed to address surgical safety
  2. These guidelines have undergone review and testing at pilot sites around the world

GET 2020 alliance

  1. WHO has been pushing the GET 2020 (Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020) alliance since 1996
  2. India is a partner in the alliance
  3. India has moved to apply for ‘trachoma-free’ status
  4. India expects to meet the 2020 target

Nicobar archipelago

  1. Nicobar is India’s southernmost district
  2. The Nicobar archipelago is separated from the Andaman cluster by the Ten Degree Channel
  3. The Nicobarese are the largest, most urbanised, and most influential among the six better-known tribes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  4. Other tribes are Jarawas, Shompen, Great Andamanese, Onge and Sentinelese


National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB)

  1.  India was the first country to launch the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) in 1976
  2. The flagship Central government initiative emanated from the Trachoma Control Programme of 1963
  3. It had a goal to reduce the prevalence of blindness from 1.4% to 0.3%
  4. Main causes of blindness are as follows: Cataract (62.6%) Refractive Error (19.70%), Glaucoma (5.80%)
  5. The definition of Blindness under the National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB) is in line with WHO Definition: “Presenting distance visual acuity less than 3/60 (20/400) in the better eye and limitation of field of vision to be less than 10 degrees from centre of fixation”
  6. The nomenclature of the scheme has changed from ‘National Programme for Control of Blindness’ to ‘National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment’
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