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Global Health
September 20, 2016

WHO Declares India Free of Yaws and Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus

JAMA. 2016;316(11):1141. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.12649

India was recognized by the World Health Organization in July with official certificates of elimination for 2 neglected tropical diseases—yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus http://bit.ly/29VXMeD. These achievements, which were carried out through the existing health system and health workforce in India, illustrate the nation’s commitment to their elimination and serve as an example to other countries.

India is the first country endemic for yaws to eradicate it, a goal the country achieved by years of using targeted awareness and early-treatment campaigns. This May, the WHO certified India yaws-free after an International Verification Team confirmed interruption of transmission of the disease late last year. A chronic disfiguring skin condition caused by the bacterium, Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue, yaws affects mostly poor children living in unhygienic conditions in warm, humid areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific. Transmission of the bacterium occurs through person-to-person skin contact and produces multiple lesions that eat away the flesh, sometimes to the bone.

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