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New Delhi: The central government has asked states to effectively deal with cases of communicable diseases like measles, kala azar, leprosy and lymphatic filariasis which could flare up if not checked at an early stage even as the focus remained on covid-19.

States have been asked to identify clusters of communicable diseases and take remedies in the backdrop of current measles outbreak across the country. The Centre believes these communicable diseases could become a threat if not addressed in time. The government aims to eliminate leprosy, lymphatic filariasis and kala azar by 2023.

A team of officials from health ministry, Niti Aayog, ICMR and NCDC held a meeting with states on Thursday. The meeting was headed by Dr VK Paul, Member Health, NITI Aayog.

“...fordiseases like kala azar, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis we are running behind the target. We have roadmap already existing in place but we work on these strategies could not be implemented up to the mark. For example- the ongoing measles outbreak is only because vaccination was not appropriate. If we have to stop measles outbreak, then the vaccination coverage should be above 95%, however, we have observed below 60% vaccination coverage with huge number of unvaccinated children. The time period between November to December is very prone for respiratory disease outbreak and measles disease outbreak is one of them," said a government official requesting anonymity.

A meeting was held last week on three diseases program- kala azar, lymphatic filariasis, leprosy to decide the roadmap for achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the official said, adding, “In case of leprosy, we have observed that case finding is running far behind and if case finding is not properly done then treatment will remain inappropriate and ineffective. Thus, states have been strictly directly to identify case of these 3 diseases to avoid any outbreak like situation." The next meeting is schedule on 29 November.

Health ministry has further given directions to ICMR, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to coordinate with state governments.

According to the officials, for the last two years, entire government workforce was working towards covid-19 pandemic and due to this other diseases were not given due attention, leading to an “outbreak like situation" as the roadmap was not followed properly.

Meanwhile, the central government is keeping an eye on covid cases through Insacog. India’s covid cases are now below 500 per day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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