New Delhi: Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday signed call to action to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2021.
Lymphatic Filariasis is a parasitic infection spread by mosquitoes. The parasites are thread-like worms (filariae) that develop in and then damage the human lymphatic system and associated tissues. It is usually contracted in childhood, often before the age of five. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and specialized tissues that are essential to the maintaining the overall fluid balance and health of organs and limbs and, importantly, are a major component of the body’s immune defense system. People suffering with this disease continue to bear debilitating impact on their health, reducing their potential to work and, in the long run, limiting economic opportunities of families.
The government launched the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) in 2018, and as part of intensifying efforts towards elimination later rolled out IDA treatment (triple drug therpay) in a phased manner.“As per India’s Accelerated Plan for Lymphatic Filariasis, over 4 billion treatments have been availed by over 630 million target population in endemic districts. We are ontrack towards a filariasis-free India," said Harsh Vardhan.
India, with 650 million population at risk, across 21 states and union territories has made steady progress under the national program by reducing the infection levels in the community below the threshold level in 96 districts, which accounts for nearly 37% of the total districts. The challenge however, persists in the remaining 160 districts that continue to sustain active transmission.
Despite attaining high reported coverage in these districts with multiple annual rounds of MDA over the years, actual consumption of medicines remains low due to low awareness about the benefits of medicines at the community-level leading to non-adherence to treatment.
According to union health ministry, by the end of February 2019, India successfully rolled out IDA across 4 districts including Arwal in Bihar (20 December 2018), Simdega in Jharkhand (10 January 2019), Nagpur in Maharashtra (20 January 2019) and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh (20 February 2019). A total of 8.07 million people out of 10.7 million (75.4%) were benefitted with the IDA medicines.