To tackle the continuing threat of filariasis in the district and to achieve total elimination of the disease from the region, the Health Department is embarking on a Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programme here on November 11.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, District Collector P. Venugopal and filariasis expert R.K. Shenoy said that 40 per cent of the prevalence of filariasis across the globe was reported from India. Alappuzha and regions like Cherthala were particularly notorious within the State as well for occurrence of the disease even now. Though filariasis control programmes were running from 1955, an effective programme was yet to be achieved, they said.

In Alappuzha, though mass drug administration was an annual exercise from 1997, many people did not consume the drugs distributed, mainly due to false notions related to the side-effects of the drugs. This has resulted in elimination of the disease remaining a dream. Accordingly, the MDA programme from this year onwards would have

volunteers ensuring that the public took the drugs, comprising DEC and Albendazol tablets, in their presence itself.

The reported side-effects, including minor inflammations and fever, occurred rarely and were symptoms of the drug having the desired effect. There was nothing to panic about and no particular treatment was required. The fever or inflammation would fade away in less than three days, Dr. Shenoy said.

The health wing had trained 5,700 volunteers and 570 supervisors for the programme, apart from volunteers who would be administering the drugs in offices, factories, educational institutions, hospitals, police stations, jails, hostels, railway stations, market places, festival venues and even paddy fields, where temporary medicine booths would be set up, Mr. Venugopal said.

Continued administering of the drug once a year, forfive consecutive years, would ensure that the disease would not be transmitted from existing patients. This was the only way to eliminate the incurable disease, which had already been done away with by most countries, Dr. Shenoy added.