The mass drug administration programme carried out across the State to control filariasis has fallen well short of target, with official estimates putting the coverage achieved by the campaign at just 28 per cent.

The anti-filariasis programme held from March 12 to 26 last year was aimed at covering 90 per cent of the target group. Children below two years, pregnant women, chronically ill and the very aged were not covered.

Between 2004 and 2012, the actual coverage of the programme had never been more than 40 per cent, Health Department sources said.

Certain modifications were made in the anti-filariasis mass drug administration programme last year to get better public acceptance for it. That too failed to yield better results and a State average of only 28 per cent coverage could be achieved. In Kozhikode district, it was as low as 22 per cent. Palakkad registered the highest coverage of 42 per cent, the sources said.

Health workers said that the month chosen for the campaign, March, also contributed to the low coverage. Students and parents were wary of taking the drug during the examination month, fearing side-effects.

Local bodies also could not concentrate much on the campaign since their employees would be preoccupied with other tasks that had to be completed before the end of the fiscal on March 31.

No lessons learnt

The mass drug administration managers do not seem to have learnt their lessons from the poor coverage in the previous years. This year also the programme is scheduled to be held in March, for a longer period, from March 2 to 28.

A question being asked is why the anti-filariasis campaign is being held in the unfavourable month of March. Ironically, Anti-Filariasis Day is observed on November 11. This year, the anti-filarial drug administration is restricted to six districts. The campaign does not cover Alappuzha and Ernakulam since, surprisingly, a sentinel survey showed there was no need for the programme in these districts. It is not known if migrant labourers have been covered. To obtain correct results and any region’s true filariasis profile, blood tests have to be done on samples taken at night.

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