Topic of the Day – Trachoma

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Trachoma

Trachoma is an infectious disease caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. It is a chronic infective disease of eye and is leading cause of infective blindness globally. It is the outcome of inadequate access to water and sanitation and poor personal and environmental hygiene. It directly affects conjunctiva under the eyelids. The inner surface of the eyelids are roughened due to infection. The infection causes inflamed granulation on the inner surface of the lids.  Roughening could lead to pain in the eyes and breakdown of the outer surface of cornea of the eyes, eventually leading to blindness. Repeated trachoma infections could lead to permanent blindness, as the eyelids turn inward.

Trachoma infection of the eyes was the most important cause of blindness in India in 1950s and over 50% population was affected in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. It was the most important cause of corneal blindness in India, affecting young children. 

National Trachoma Survey report surveyed active trachoma among children and declared India free from Trachoma. It showed overall prevalence of 0.7% only, which is much below the elimination criteria of infective trachoma as defined by the World Health Organisation. Active trachoma is considered eliminated if the prevalence of active infection is less than 5% among children below 10 years. It was stated by the Union Health Minister that the Survey results indicate that active trachoma is no longer a public health problem in India. India has met the goal of Trachoma elimination as specified by the WHO under its (Global Elimination of Trachoma by the year 2020) GET2020 program. This has been possible due to decades of inter-sectoral interventions and efforts that included provision of antibiotic eye drops, availability of safe water, availability of surgical facilities for chronic trachoma, personal hygiene, improved environmental sanitation and a general improvement in the socio economic status in the country.

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