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Current Affaris: India Becomes First YAWS-Free Country

India first Country to become YAWS-Free 

  • India achieves yet another public health milestone; becomes first country to be declared free of Yaws, an infection of the skin and bones, much ahead of WHO global target year of 2020. India has acknowledged as the first country in the world to become YAWS-free. 
  • Union Health Minister JP Nadda received an official citation from the World Health Organisation and the UNICEF for Elimination of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus and for being YAWS-free on 14.07.2016, Thursday.
  • YAWS is a kind of bacterial infection that affects skin, bones and joints, while tetanus, another bacterial infection, leads to muscle spasms that can be fatal. An official statement said, "India was validated for MNTE in April 2015, much ahead of the global target date of December 2015." 
  • According to the WHO, 19 countries have still not reached the MNTE status. The Union Health minister said that Following the success of Polio Eradication Programme, these achievements reflect the dedication of the country towards achievement of health equity and universal health coverage. He added that this accomplishment is significant as India has achieved the milestone of being YAWS-free much before the WHO global target year of 2020.
About YAWS 
  • Yaws is a chronic infection that affects mainly the skin, bone and cartilage. The disease occurs mainly in poor communities in warm, humid, tropical areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. The causative organism is a bacterium called Treponema pertenue, a subspecies of Treponema pallidum that causes venereal syphilis. However, yaws is a non-venereal infection. 

  • About 75% of people affected are children under 15 years of age (peak incidence occurs in children aged 6-10 years); males and females are affected and no race is exempt. Yaws is transmitted mainly through direct skin contact with an infected person. A single skin lesion develops at the point of entry of the bacterium after 2–4 weeks. 
  • Without treatment, multiple lesions appear all over the body.  Overcrowding, poor personal hygiene and poor sanitation facilitate the spread of the disease. The disease is rarely fatal; however, it can lead to chronic disfigurement and disability. Yaws can be treated with a single dose of a cheap and effective antibiotic: Benzathine Penicillin injection cures the disease.

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