Gates Foundation working with Centre to eliminate elephantiasis through triple drug therapy

August 19, 2021 10:30 pm | Updated 10:30 pm IST - Mumbai

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working with the Indian government to accelerate elimination of lymphatic filariasis (LF), commonly known as elephantiasis, through the nationwide roll-out of a triple drug therapy, said Dr. Helen Jamet, foundation’s deputy director, vector control, malaria.

In an e-mail interaction with The Hindu , on the eve of World Mosquito Day, Dr. Jamet said the primary strategic goal is to support the government of India’s ambition to eliminate vector-borne diseases and expansion of integrated vector-borne disease surveillance.

“We are also working with the relevant government departments to eliminate LF through the triple drug therapy — IDA (ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine and albendazole),” she said.

The World Health Organization had in 2017 published the Global Vector Control Response to provide a new strategy to strengthen vector control worldwide through increased capacity, improved surveillance, better coordination, and integrated action across sectors and diseases.

“This approach has been adopted by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) in India where the occurrence of multiple overlapping vector-borne diseases provides a strong rationale for an integrated approach. The government of India has created a framework to enable effective entomological monitoring: entomological zones, filaria control units, regional directorates, and municipal corporations,” she said.

Ms. Jamet said that the NVBDCP and the State governments are scaling up the IDA programme with increased resources. “Screening and surveillance are the key to preventing reintroduction of LF infection in large urban areas which provide ideal breeding sites for the vectors. We will be supporting the NVBDCP and the State governments in building integrated vector surveillance capacity in India, which will include ensuring sustainable career paths for entomologists, vector collection, and xenomonitoring for quality data availability,” she said.

According to Ms. Jamet, vector-borne diseases remain mainly among the poor. “We need to go back to basics — education about vector-borne diseases in the communities that suffer from these diseases. Urban planning to provide better drainage, water supply systems, removing garbage, proper sanitation, and improved housing can prevent vector breeding and reduce biting,” she added.

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