Eradicating killer diseases; making India healthy
Science

Eradicating killer diseases; making India healthy

2 Sep 2015 | By Shreyashi

Neonatal tetanus: Hurrah, it's gone!

Modi announced at the Call for Action-Summit that India is officially free of neonatal-tetanus.

Measures taken against the disease, which once claimed 15% of the lives of children born each year, included cash incentives for delivering the baby in a health facility, training more skilled birth attendants and administering Tetanus Toxoid injections to women in antenatal care.

The UN has appreciated this effort.

Timeline

1962: Operation 'Kill Smallpox' starts

Smallpox, the killer disease had been eradicated from most parts of the world; however, it continued to rage in India, causing over 100,000 deaths annually.

The disease caused a skin rash that would eventually form raised, fluid-filled blisters all over the body.

The malignant and hemorrhagic forms of these blisters most often caused death.

The National Smallpox Eradication Programme was launched in 1962.

May 1975: Rest in peace, smallpox

Rest in peace, smallpox

Since 1962, efforts were taken to successfully vaccinate the entire population.

In 1973 however, an intensive campaign was begun wherein a search and outbreak containment drive was conducted in heavily infected areas to detect the reservoir of infection.

All suspected cases were to be contained and investigated; this continued till zero incidence was reported.

In May 1975, smallpox was declared successfully eradicated in India.

1995: Mission to eradicate polio begins

India began its mission to eradicate polio in India in 1995.

Polio used to cripple more than 50,000 children in the country every year.

More than 2.3-million polio volunteers and 150,000 supervisors have since been working rigorously to reach every child in India.

The task was seen as a massive one, with India having the highest number of reported polio cases in the world.

27 Mar 2014: No more polio!

On 27 March 2014, WHO declared India polio free.

South-East Asia, thus became four of six WHO regions to achieve this status.

Minister for Health and Family Welfare, India, Ghulam Nabi Azad, received the official certificate from WHO on India's behalf.

Azad said that this feat was made possible by indigenous bivalent polio vaccine, adequate domestic financial resources and close monitoring of polio programme.

Fact: Getting better, but many to go

India is home to an alarmingly large number of diseases, caused by poor sanitation, lack of access to fresh water, poor hygiene etc. Malaria, typhoid, jaundice and diarrhoeal diseases are amongst the most common in India.

1990: Killer disease in India- neonatal tetanus

Killer disease in India- neonatal tetanus

Neonatal tetanus is caused by cutting of the umbilical cord under unsanitary conditions.

The Government in 1983, introduced a system where two-doses of tetanus toxoid vaccine were administered to all pregnant women during pregnancy.

However, in 1990, neonatal tetanus was still the cause for almost 80,000 deaths.

Known as lockjaw, it sets in a week after birth, causing spasms and is fatal if untreated.

2 Sep 2015: Neonatal tetanus: Hurrah, it's gone!

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