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Natl Med J India. 2007 Mar-Apr;20(2):81-6.

Can Southeast Asia eradicate yaws by 2010? Some lessons from the Yaws Eradication Programme of India.

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  • 1Department of Community Medicine, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Associated Hospitals, Connaught Place, New Delhi 110001, India.


Yaws has traditionally been known as a skin disease that affects people living in hilly, remote and inaccessible areas. Despite the availability of successful treatment and yaws control programmes worldwide since 1948, yaws is endemic in a number of countries, probably because it is not considered a priority disease for eradication. The presence of a disease that can be eradicated in a community can be taken as a sign of 'backwardness' and an indicator of inappropriate public health efforts. Yaws is endemic in 3 countries of the Southeast Asia (SEA) Region of WHO-indonesia, India and Timor-Leste. The WHO SEA Regional Office has set a target for yaws eradication from the region by year 2010. Yaws eradication is at various stages in these countries. India has reported no cases for the past 3 years and has declared elimination. In the other 2 countries yaws eradication programmes are in their infancy and achieving the WHO regional goal appears impossible. However, if lessons are learnt from the Yaws Eradication Programme in India and an externally funded, technically supported, vertical programme is started immediately in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, the target would not be difficult to accomplish.

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