Health Ministry launches nationwide campaign to combat filariasis

The launch came a month after the programme received resounding support from Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to eliminate filariasis by 2027, three years ahead of the global target.

February 11, 2023 10:46 am | Updated 11:27 am IST - New Delhi

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. File

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The Union Health Ministry has launched a nationwide mass drug administration (MDA) campaign aimed at ending filariasis disease transmission through door-to-door administration of anti-filarial drugs, especially in 10 affected States.

High-burden districts in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh jointly launched the campaign, according to a statement issued by the Ministry on Friday.

The launch came a month after the programme received resounding support from Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to eliminate filariasis by 2027, three years ahead of the global target.

India has ramped up efforts to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF), a vector-borne disease caused by culex mosquitoes that leads to disabilities, well ahead of the global targets to safeguard communities from disabilities, as well as from social- and economic insecurity.

“The government of India has already unveiled a renewed five-pronged strategy for the elimination of LF,” the statement said.

Launching the campaign, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "Collective action is required to tackle LF". He urged all the States to focus on directly-observed therapy rather than distribution of drugs. He emphasised focusing on intensive monitoring at the block level.

The Health Secretary pointed out the need for a daily analyses of the coverage and monitoring reports at all levels, besides the monitoring of the monitors to ensure quality data. “He suggested that good practices of States can be taken up by other States too,” the statement said.

As India gears up to eliminate filaria by 2027, the timing is perfect to resonate this target with the sustainable development goals, which aim to end all forms of hunger and disability or morbidity, it said. Innovative best practices and work plans were shown at the event by the States.

Uttar Pradesh informed that through a D2C (direct-to-consumer) campaign, it is reaching out to 80 lakh families with LF messages and importance of MDA drugs through social media. Jharkhand will be conducting these rounds at 81 sites, covering close to 12,032 villages.

“Odisha aims to cover 1.36 crore beneficiaries through efforts at camps, schools and colleges as well as the preparation of village-level micro-plans such as polio campaigns,” the statement said.

West Bengal will be conducting these rounds in seven districts, covering a population of almost 60 lakh and will also be deploying mobile health teams to avert any untoward incidents. Chhattisgarh will be undertaking the rounds in two endemic districts and has also deployed rapid response teams.

“Andhra Pradesh has engaged health volunteers who will go house to house in one district to ensure the consumption of these drugs,” the statement said.

Maharashtra will be covering four districts and 16 blocks and has ramped up efforts to ensure the consumption of drugs in the presence of health workers by leveraging the "Jagruk Balak" programme.

“Madhya Pradesh will be conducting the rounds in eight districts with a targeted focus on IEC and mobilisation through inter-sectoral collaboration and will converge the Vikas Yatra 2023 activities with the MDA campaign to optimise drug consumption at booths,” the statement said. Mobile teams have been formed to reach out to the migratory population in the State.

Karnataka will be targeting the endemic district and two blocks and will ensure that the collector inspects the campaign and ensures maximum coverage.

Bihar has ramped up efforts towards a successful MDA campaign by appealing to the community and beneficiaries to come forward and enthusiastically participate in the rounds. Celebrities who have a huge fan base on social media have been roped in for the campaign.

Roli Singh, Additional Secretary and Mission Director (NHM), Ministry of Health, said, "We have adopted a multi-pronged approach with the MDA rounds in two phases, where 1,113 blocks in 90 districts across 10 States will be launching a campaign against filariasis. It was informed that in spite of 10-15 MDA rounds in the past, the LF elimination could not be achieved due to a sub-optimal coverage."

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